If you missed it already, the countdown of the new Golazo 50 is already well underway so you can catch up here…
50-46 / 45-41 / 40-36 / 35-31 / 30-26 / 25-21 / 20-16 / 15-11 / 10-6 / 5-4
If you don’t know what this is, it is the annual look at the 50 best young players in Argentina. All the information about the list is in the first part so here are the podium finishes before we reveal our number one…
For every so-called ‘next Lionel Messi’ over the past decade, Argentina has also had a steady stream of ‘next Javier Macheranos’, attached to every bustling, young defensive midfielder to show promise. None more so than Santiago Ascacibar and while the combative ball winner is yet to make his mark on the national team, Ascacibar is still best placed to fill the sizeable void left by El Jefecito.
A high-tempo, tough-tackling, seemingly indefatigable number five, Ascacibar has carried his consistent form to the Bundesliga and after one season with VfB Stuttgart, the club swiftly tied the 22-year-old down to a new deal that runs until 2023.
The €8 million paid to Estudiantes in 2017 looking like better value with each passing window as VfB sporting director Michael Reschke explained: “Santi has been an essential element of our squad. He possesses an absolutely exceptional willingness to perform and strength in challenges.
“In addition, he is a true team player, who relentlessly gives his all for the success of the team as a unit. We firmly believe that he can take on a vital leader’s role within our team in the future.”
Many in Argentina believe the same thing for the national team after Ascacibar immediately caught the eye playing for hometown club Estudiantes. An obsessive trainer with an insatiable appetite to improve from a young age, the teenager broke into the first team in 2016 and led the way in terms of tackling and ball-winning statistics in Argentina’s top flight.
The 2016 Olympics might not have been the best experience for anyone in Albiceleste but didn’t deter potential suitors. And when Diego Simeone, a man who knows a thing or too about playing in midfield and huevos, said “Ascacibar has the highest potential of any Argentine player, he is the future of Argentina,” it was clear Estudiantes had a special talent.
Stuttgart swooped a year later and despite attracting a few too many yellow cards, Ascacibar has been a regular even since, managing to maintain an average of over three tackles per game. With a tattoo of Diego Maradona on one calf, Ascacibar shares that familiar fire to the Argentine icon and although very different players, there is an underrated ability in El Ruso’s game.
A decent passer of the ball and comfortable in possession there is more than just the ugly side of midfield duties to see. Argentina, in need of a midfield revamp, could well do with Ascacibar over the coming years.
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