Diminutive Estudiantes winger Pellegrini burst onto the scene midway through 2018 with some eye-catching performances against Independiente, Grêmio and Boca, including a dazzling solo golazo against the latter.Short, stocky and with a low centre of gravity, the 18-year-old left winger has fantastic dribbling ability and a devilish cross on him and should see his stock continue to rise in 2019.
The La Plata side has a fantastic reputation of bringing players through their academy and Pellegrini is at the head of an interesting crop of players including Iván Erquiaga, Juan Apaolaza and Iván Gómez.While there are some rough edges that still need to be ironed out and the need for more consistency, Pellegrini has the work rate, technique and spark of invention that should see him develop into an increasingly important figure for El Pincha.
Boca are already rumoured to be interested in the precocious Pellegrini to La Bombonera but a $20 million release clause may well deter any suitors for the time being at least.
13/03/1997 Banfield Left back
It is fair to say that the full back positions have been problematic for Argentina since virtually the days of Zanetti and Sorín and while Nicolás Tagliafico currently does an admirable job on the left, La Albiceleste’s long term successor is less clear.
Claudio Bravo is certainly no Juan Pablo Sorín as yet but the Banfield youngster has developed into one of the Superliga’s top full backs over the past year and could soon challenge for a place in the Argentina squad given the call-ups to Fabricio Bustos and Renzo Zaravia last year.
Sound defensively with the pace to keep up with the league’s quickest wide players and an ability to win back possession, Bravo has also demonstrated his attacking qualities chalking up two assists in nine appearances this season. Whether Lionel Scaloni or European clubs will take note while Bravo is at Banfield remains to be seen but should any of the grandes be looking for a full back don’t be surprised to see the 21-year-old linked.
Lucas Rodríguez 27/04/1997
DC United (loan from Estudiantes)
One need only look at some of the best players in Major League Soccer (MLS) and know the financial struggles of most Argentinian clubs to see why teams in the United States are increasingly looking to South America for affordable, match winning talent. This transfer window has been no different and DC United may have pulled off something of a coup by adding the skillful Lucas Rodríguez on a year-long loan.
Tiny Lautaro Acosta was a revelation in Washington last season and although Rodríguez is a comparatively tall five feet and six inches, United have another diminutive dribbler on their books in Titi. Racking up almost 100 senior appearances since his debut in 2016, Rodriguez already has plenty of experience and his ability has been clear even if the 21-year-old has of yet not truly broken through.
With the close control and trickery to beat defenders and an eye for a pass, Rodríguez could be another successful Argentinian export to MLS but must put this together consistently to shake off any doubts. Having overcome fractured vertebrae suffered in a car crash earlier in life, Titi has come through adversity before and will be one to keep an eye on this season.
Huesca (loan from Atlético Madrid) Goalkeeper
Despite picking up a Primera winners’ medal with Boca Juniors and a Europa League title with Atletico Madrid, it hasn’t been an easy few years for Axel Werner, who continues to struggle for game time as is the risk when plucked out from domestic football at a young age.
A loan to promoted club Huesca was supposed to resolve that but with the Liga minnows rooted at the foot of the table and a new coach coming in, Werner has slipped down the pecking order there too. And so barring the odd fleeting appearance out on loan it is necessary to cast your mind back to the outstanding displays the young goalkeeper produced at Atletico de to remind yourself of Werner’s talent.
An agile six-foot three inches who is comfortable with the ball at his feet, Werner’s performances earned him a place in Argentina’s Olympic squad in 2016 and prompted Diego Simeone to bring him to Madrid. Still only 22, the hope is that Werner can find some consistency somewhere to continue his progression.
01/01/1997 River Plate Right back
To Gonzalo Montiel’s absolute credit that the 22-year-old is now a Copa Libertadores winning right back given his initial role on that side of the defence appeared to be something of a temporary fix for Marcelo Gallardo.
A River academy product, Montiel has come through the ranks in central defence but his ease on the ball had seen the reserves utilise him in midfield from time to time and when Gallardo was left looking for a permanent option at right back after the sale of Gabriel Mercado, Montiel appeared a decent option.
Perhaps in a sense like Mercado, who can also operate centrally, Montiel is a defend first and attack second type of full back but that isn’t to suggest El Ratón is poor offensively. Able to provide width down the right and certainly no slouch, Montiel has been success at full back that Barcelona were said to have scouted River’s victories over Grêmio and Boca in the Copa Libertadores.
Thanks to anyone who helped out with compiling the list but special thanks to Tom Robinson for his input and player profiles. Part III will be up shortly…