Another year and another Golazo 50, as we countdown the best young players in Argentina.
To be eligible for the list, the players simply need to be born on or after January 1st 1996.
Cutting to 50 as ever was an almost impossible task and as means of some explanation there will be an accompanying podcast in which we discuss how we come up with the list and explain some of those not included.
Thanks to Tom Robinson and Jimmy Lee for helping with the decisions and writing.
And now here is the 50 for 2019….
Newell’s Old Boys
Injury cut short Jerónimo Cacciabue’s 2019 but regardless it has been a breakthrough season for the 21-year-old as Newell’s Old Boys made a positive start to the Superliga season. A tenacious tackler in central midfield, Cacciabue is also a strong passer of the ball and gets forward to good effect, scoring a wonderful goal against Aldosivi prior to injury. Under-20 International Aníbal Moreno came in and softened the blow but La Lepra will be looking forward to getting Cacciabue back in 2020.
Argentinos Juniors go into the summer break as surprise leaders of the Superliga and while some of their experienced, older players have stepped up, so too have the latest academy graduates from the famed Semillero. Fausto Vera has been a regular presence at the base of the midfield, where his tackling and ball retention have been vital. The 19-year-old is a favourite of Fernando Batista with the under-20s and will be hoping to go for Olympic gold in 2020.
Gustavo Alfaro won’t be remembered too fondly at La Bombonera but the now ex-Boca Juniors manager did hand Agustín Obando his senior debut earlier this year. The 19-year-old had been lighting up the left wing for Rolando Schiavi’s reserves prior to Alfaro giving him a chance and although Obando drifted out of the first team picture, glimmers of his potential were clear. Quick, direct with an eye for a pass, there are shades of a young Ángel Di María and now Pepe needs a gain more experience.
A loan to Club Atlético All Boys in the Primera B Metropolitana a little over a year ago suggested Lucas Vera’s future may lie away from Lanús but the 22-year-old returned this season and has proved that he belongs in the top flight. An ever-present part of Luis Zubeldía’s side that sit just a point off the top of the table, Vera’s energy and willingness to join the attack from deep has been so important. Three assists in the league and a goal in the Copa Argentina, Vera was named in a recent under-23 squad and will be hoping to make a push for Batista’s Olympic squad.
Last year position: 39
Even in a struggling Banfield side, Claudio Bravo has been one of the Superliga’s most consistent left-backs over the past couple of seasons. The 22-year-old forms part of Fernando Batista’s Argentina under-23 squad and is well placed to be first choice if he can impress at January’s pre-Olympic tournament. Solid defensively, Bravo ferociously wins possession and while the attacking part of his game could improve, it seems only a matter of time before either a move abroad or to one of Argentina’s grandes follows.
Last year position: 38
It’s not yet clear whether MLS side DC United will use their option to sign Lucas Rodríguez permanently. While not setting the league alight as the Black-and-Red lost in the first round of the playoffs, Titi has shown flashes of his talent. Seven goals, including a couple of absolute golazos, and three assists isn’t a bad return for a season but remains a difficult signing to fit into the tight MLS economic model. Estudiantes would be thrilled to have Rodríguez back in 2020 where his creativity would be a real asset.
Defensa y Justicia
Last year position: 32
Eight goals last season for Nicolás Fernández fired Defensa y Justicia to a surprise title challenge that ended in a club-best second place finish. The 23-year-old is finding things tougher this term, as El Halcón are in general after a huge turnover of players, yet Fernández remains a tireless worker up front. Nicolás, like older brothers Leandro and Brian, may never reach the heights of succeeding in Europe but has proven a useful attacking option, who is adept at dropping off into spaces or drifting out wide unselfishly.
There has been no shortage of talent coming out of Vélez Sarsfield over the past few years and although Álvaro Barreal is yet to nail down a first team spot, the pacy, 19-year-old winger looks well set to push through over the next twelve months. Since Gabriel Heinze handed Barreal his debut at La Bombonera a little over a year ago, the academy product has managed only fleeting cameos yet a goal against River Plate and a string of fine displays for Argentina under-20s suggest a very bright future.
Replacing Exequiel Palacios for his River Plate debut in October 2017, Cristian Ferreira may well be eying to make that a more permanent switch given Palacios’ move to Germany. Marcelo Gallardo likely won’t put quite so much pressure on the 20-year-old so soon but has already shown the faith to play Ferreira in some big matches over the past year. A stunning goal against Aldosivi and an important late free-kick in Lima in this year’s Copa Libertadores highlighted Ferreira’s shooting from distance and it’s with good reason that Inter Milan are already sniffing around the midfielder.