Cutting the annual Golazo 50 is never easy and so a number of talented young players missed out on our 2019 countdown. However, looking ahead to the end of 2020 there are already a number of contenders primed to breakthrough.
Here are our ten to watch in 2020….
The fact that Lanús pulled Lautaro Valenti from the Argentina under-23 squad that was selected for the pre-Olympic tournament speaks volumes about how important the 21-year-old has become to El Granate. Still a reserve player until April of last year, Luis Zubeldia handed Valenti a senior debut as Lanús went out of the Copa Superliga and the defender started this season as a first choice centre back. Zubeldia’s faith has been rewarded with some fine performances which see Lanús resume the year a point off the top and Valenti’s left boot has chalked up three goals.
River Plate had lost Exequiel Palacios and were contemplating the possible exit of Nacho Fernández earlier in the transfer window and if reports in the press were to be believed José Paradela was their number one target. The 21-year-old made his first senior start against River at the end of September and even in a Gimnasia side battling against relegation Paradela has stood out. El Lobo had picked up the midfielder from lower league Club Rivadavia in 2018 but weren’t expecting this impact at first team level just yet. Diego Maradona threw Paradela in and the classy, deep-lying midfielder has impressed with his comfort in possession and dynamic bursts forward on the ball. Nacho was certainly a good buy for River from Gimnasia and although Paradela’s $9 million release clause may price out a move to the Monumental don’t be surprised to see the youngster on the move somewhere.
Argentina’s under-17 World Cup campaign ended in heartbreak with a late Paraguay comeback handing Los Pibes a cruel last 16 exit. However, there were flashes of talent from the young side and none more so than from San Lorenzo playmaker Matías Palacios. The 17-year-old’s outragrous spinning, back-heeled assist in the win over Tajikistan went viral and has clearly caught people’s attention with Almería and even Real Madrid linked to the youngster. Palacios made his San Lorenzo debut as a sixteen-year-old in 2018 but has failed to break into the first team since and it was only this that denied the teenager a place in the Golazo 50. San Lorenzo will be hoping not to lose Palacios unless there is a hefty transfer fee coming their way and if he remains in Bajo Flores, he should start to see game time soon.
Defensa y Justicia (Loan from River Plate)
The last defensive loanee at Defensa y Justicia from River Plate wore the captain’s armband as El Halcón finished Superliga runners-up and while Alexander Barboza ultimately had no future at the Monumental, the latest recruit just might. Héctor Martínez has been another successful temporary addition at Defensa y Justicia, a club who has used the loan market to its full advantage, and although results have dropped off from the high of last season, the 21-year-old’s displays suggest a bright future. Comfortable on the ball, Martínez has had the big shoes of Lisandro Martinez to fill on the left side of the central defence and though not at that level, the River academy product is worth keeping tabs on.
There is a great deal of hope surrounding Alan Velasco at Independiente and having made his senior debut at sixteen during last year’s Copa Sudamericana, El Rojo might look to give the tricky wide player a few more opportunities. Fleet-footed, quick and with the ability to skip past challenges, Velasco makes no secret of his admiration of Ezequiel Barco, the last breakthrough star in Avellaneda. There are definite similarities in their style of play and although it might be expecting too much for Velasco to have the same impact on the first team as Barco did when still a teenager, there is a huge amount of potential.
Newell’s Old Boys
Only a lengthy debate saw Newell’s Old Boys teammate Jerónimo Cacciabue earn a place in the 2019 Golazo 50 over Aníbal Moreno. It was injury to Cacciabue which helped Moreno finish the year in La Lepra’s starting eleven and the 20-year-old took full advantage. So much so that Boca Juniors made an approach for the pair. With a new deal signed, Moreno will remain in Rosario for now and that can only be a good thing as the technically gifted midfielder ended 2019 with a tremendous performance away to Independiente. Only the woodwork denied Moreno a wonderful goal from distance in Avellaneda and this is a talent already demonstrated by a thunderbolt against Uruguay for Argentina under-20s at last year’s Sudamericano.
Belgrano didn’t get to see too much of Cristian Romero before Genoa swooped and so El Pirata will be hoping that the same doesn’t happen to Bruno Amione, the latest defensive prodigy. Powerfully built and strong in the air, it is with good reason that the 17-year-old has drawn comparisons to Nicolás Otamendi. However, Amione has probably shown a greater ability with the ball and Argentina under-17 coach Pablo Aimar is a big fan. A central part of the U17 side that lifted the Sudamericano and went to the World Cup, Amione has now made his senior club debut in the Primera Nacional and rumours of Italian interest have surfaced.
A late injury to Fernando Valenzuela earned Juan Brunetta a last-minute Argentina under-23 call for the pre-Olympic tournament, reward for a good first half of the season in a woeful Godoy Cruz side that produced four goals and led to reports of interest from River Plate during this window. A versatile forward able to play across the attack, Brunetta is 22 now but has begun to show some of the early promise that was on display when breaking through at Arsenal in 2016. A move to Belgrano in 2017 didn’t really work out for either party and with the Pirates now in the Primera Nacional, Brunetta is trying to help Godoy Cruz not get sucked into trouble.
The least known of those potentially about to breakthrough in 2020 is Mateo Bajamich but with eight goals in 15 appearances this season in the Primera Nacional, there are plenty watching the 20-year-old. Bajamich may not be the level of talent that Paulo Dybala was when he burst into the Instituto side and is unlikely to follow La Joya’s route to Europe for the moment, yet a transfer up the Argentinian football pyramid wouldn’t be a surprise. Quick, alert and comfortable drifting into the wide channels to support the attack, Bajamich is the latest to impress the locals at the Estadio Presidente Perón and could be the next to move on to bigger and brighter things.