Golazo 50 2019: Argentina’s best young players (30-21)

The Golazo 50 2019 rumbles on and we are now over halfway. If you missed parts one and two, you can catch up here….

50-41 / 40-31

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.

Emanuel Mammana
Zenit St. Petersburg
Last year position: 7

A cruel drop once again the rankings as the once heralded future of Argentina’s defence battles back from yet another career threatening injury. Rupturing his knee ligaments for the second time in October, Emanuel Mammana is on the long road to recovery. The River Plate academy graduate has overcome adversity before, losing both parents at a young age, so his mentality can never be questioned but for a defender who captained the under-20s, made his international debut and earned his European move it is heartbreaking to see such talent potentially fade. 

Alan Franco
Last year position: 15

Much like teammate Fabricio Bustos it has been a year to forget for Alan Franco as Independiente’s aspirations to challenge for titles fell way below expectation. An international debut against Guatemala in 2018 promised so much but proved the peak of Franco’s rise after a metatarsal injury spoiled the end of that year. Since then, like El Rojo in general, the 23-year-old has struggled for form and as the club look to balance the books Independiente may capitalise on interest in the centre back from Liga MX.

Nicolás Capaldo
Boca Juniors
New Entry

He may have missed one of the most important goal opportunities of his life in the Libertadores semi-final against River which could have tied the match at the end of the first half. But the fact that Alfaro trusted Nicolás Capaldo to be out there in the first place in such an important match speaks volumes to the abilities and maturity of the 21-year-old. Breaking forward from central midfield, Capaldo has no problem getting dirty when necessary to win back possession and reports suggest Paris Saint-Germain may have paid for a first option on Nico. 

Pedro de la Vega
Last year position: 43

From the Lanús reserves to the first team to the under-20 World Cup, the past 18 months have been any young footballers dream. Credit Lanús’ manager Luis Zubeldía for identifying talent and giving Pedro De La Vega a chance to prove himself. Pepo can play on the wing but is most effective when he drifts into the middle of the pitch. His dribbling skills are some of the best in the Superliga but his greatest quality is his fearlessness and confidence, which really stands out when you consider he is still only 18. 

Santiago Cáseres
Last year position: 12

After a promising start to life in Spain, the 22-year-old defensive midfielder’s career has stalled after injuries and Villarreal’s unexpected battle against the drop last season have starved him of playing time and he has yet to feature at all in the current campaign. Strong in the challenge, an intelligent reader of the game and a precise passer of the ball, the ex-Vélez man remains an interesting prospect but may well have to make a move in order for playing time.

Gonzalo Maroni
Sampdoria (loan from Boca)
Last year position: 24

A classic number 10 player, Gonzalo Maroni has no true position on the pitch but is best floating around, receiving the ball from his teammates and then turning upfield to make magic happen. While he has yet to find consistent playing time in Italy, Maroni showed at both Boca and Talleres that he has what it takes to become a special player. While his passing and play making ability is ever-present, his biggest need for growth is with his goal scoring. If he can begin to pocket a few more assists, he will begin to become an all-around player.

Agustin Almendra
Boca Juniors
Last year position: 27

Climbing up the table ever so slightly, Almendra’s position in this year’s list reflects his steady progression, albeit it perhaps a tad slower than anticipated after breaking into the Boca team last year.  The elegant midfielder may have begun life as a number 10 but has transformed into more of a deeper-lying role and has figured intermittently for Los Xeneizes. It was a surprise to see him so little at the under-20 World Cup but, still only 19, Almendra still as plenty of time to show his abundant talent. With many of Europe’s top clubs are keeping a beady eye on his progression, hopefully 2020 will be the year he properly establishes himself in the first team.

Cristian Pavón
LA Galaxy (loan from Boca)
Last year position: 8

Prior to his inclusion in the 2018 World Cup, Cristian Pavón was linked to some of the largest clubs in Europe, including Barcelona. His poor performance in Russia followed by a decline in form for Boca saw the Cordobés move to MLS instead of Europe. Maybe it was his return to play for his previous manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto or the fact that MLS defenders are less bruising, but once Pavón stepped foot on the pitch for the LA Galaxy he immediately became one of the best players in MLS.

Thiago Almada
Vélez Sarsfield
Last year position: 25

Based purely on talent and potential alone, Thiago Almada can lay a strong claim to being the most exciting young star in the Superliga. The diminutive attacking midfielder hailing from the same neighbourhood as Carlos Tevez has phenomenal dribbling abilities thanks to his low centre of gravity and the pace, vision and creativity to unlock the tightest of defences. So highly is he rated that Manchester City pushed hard to sign him in the summer but the jewel of Liniers ended up signing a new contract, raising his buyout clause to €25 million.  Why then is he not higher in the list? Despite his talent, the 18-year-old is yet to be a week-in week-out regular for Vélez with manager Gabriel Heinze presumably wary of putting too much pressure and expectation on him. Furthermore, Almada was bizarrely left out of the Argentina under-20 World Cup squad, depriving the Albiceleste of a potential game changer.  Young enough to represent them at the next tournament, 2020 will surely be the year that Almada kicks on to the next level and takes the Superliga by storm, It’s only a matter of time.


Emiliano Buendía
Norwich City
New Entry (#36 in 2016)

The chief creative force behind Norwich’s promotion to the Premier League, Emiliano Buendía may have taken a roundabout route but is now performing regularly at the highest level and not looking out of place. The attacking midfielder was plucked from the Spanish Second Division and brought to Norfolk, quickly becoming a fan favourite thanks to his quick feet and incisive through balls, finishing the season with eight goals and twelve assists.  This year he already has laid out five goals and is one of the league’s top chance creators despite Norwich struggles near the bottom of the league.  While he may still have a way to go before he enters the conversation for a national team call up, he’s certainly on the right path if he maintains his current form.