Last year ahead of the 2016 Olympics, Golazo Argentino set out to name Argentina’s 50 best young players. A group of so-called experts, debated over the pros and cons of the inordinate number of potential stars that the country continues to produce and who ply their trades not only in Argentina but around the globe, before eventually settling on Paulo Dybala as number one.
The 2016 Olympics was an unmitigated disaster before Gerardo Martino was even allowed to start thinking of his squad and as a result several of the best players from last year’s 50 were not available. However, even after that, Argentina’s performances at under-20 level have been pretty awful – not through a lack of individual talent.
So, Jorge Sampaoli has overseen a shake-up of the youth system with the likes of Pablo Aimar and Diego Placente now aiming to mold the next generation of under-20 World Cup winners. Some of those youngsters may feature here…
However, given that last year the Olympic under-23 age limit was the cut-off, for 2017 we have simply moved forward a year. To be eligible for the list, you simply need to be born on or after January 1st 1994.
Now, this is not a science. It is 100% objective and frankly other than perhaps 20 names that everyone would agree on, the rest is varies from person to person. If there is a player missing who you rate above many others here, almost certainly he was included in the initial list that was three times the length but hey, we needed to cut it down.
Anyway, enough of that – here is the Golazo 50 2017….
There are a number of players to have helped Gabriel Heinze guide Argentinos Juniors back into the top flight but none have caught the eye quite like Esteban Rolón and is why Los Bichos will be fortunate to still have the 21-year-old in central midfield come the start of the season.
The famed Semillero has produced the likes of Fernando Redondo and Esteban Cambiasso and Rolón is the latest in a line of elegant number fives, that go far beyond the role of simple ball-winner. A tireless worker in winning possession but a dangerous playmaker from deep, where his vast range of passing is put to use and his ease on the ball enables him to carry the ball. All of Argentina’s grandes are lining up, in addition to European clubs, so the future looks bright.
For all the improvements Independiente had made to the starting eleven over the past couple of years, right-back had remained a problem position until Ariel Holan arrived in Avellaneda and looked to the club’s academy. 21-year-old Fabricio Bustos was the beneficiary and looked immediately at ease, pondering the question why no one had taken a look earlier.
A bundle of pure energy, Bustos has been tearing down the right to join the attack and battling away to win back possession, perfectly personifying the shift to a more dynamic style of play under Holan. Such has been the impact of the pint-sized locomotive, European clubs and Jorge Sampaoli are already taking note.
Given his lack of first team action, you need to go back to Axel Werner’s time with Atlético de Rafaela to see just how much potential 21-year-old goalkeeper has and what prompted Diego Simeone to snap up the youngster.
An almost immediate loan to Boca Juniors was in theory an opportunity to gain more experience but injury to Guillermo Sara, saw Los Xeneizes sign Agustín Rossi, and Werner was restricted to just two league starts. Back in Madrid this summer, Werner will now be aiming to remind the world why he is still one of Argentina’s best young keepers.
One of the jewels in Boca Juniors’ illustrious academy, chances would understandably have been slim at La Bombonera for Tomás Pochettino. Despite reported interest from the likes of Juventus, the 21-year-old spent the last season on loan with Defensa y Justicia and his outstanding displays have prompted El Halcón to purchase 50% from Boca.
Defensa y Justicia have proved experts in cultivating young talent over the past year or so and under Ariel Holan and subsequently Sebastián Beccacece, Pochettino slotted comfortably into the side. An excellent passer of the ball and creative hub, the Santafecino scored three goals and will be looking to add to that this year.
There is a reason that River Plate were looking closely at Nicolás Leguizamón when talk of Sebastián Driussi and Lucas Alario leaving the Monumental first surfaced. Just as it was for Alario, Santa Fe has been the place where the young forward has honed his craft and while the 22-year-old is a very different type of striker, Leguizamón has shown an eye for goal.
Colón’s defensive set-up and tendency to attack at set-pieces are perhaps not the friendliest tactics for a pacy, young striker like Leguizamón but that didn’t prevent the youngster from scoring five and adding three assists from sixteen Primera starts last season.
The rest of the countdown is coming soon so keep your eyes peeled.
Thanks to Daniel Fraiz-Martinez, Tom Robinson, Sam Kelly, Armando Danga, Rupert Fryer, Nick Dorrington and a host of other people who have voiced their opinions or written sections in the upcoming parts.