Golazo 50 2021: Argentina’s best young players [50-41]

The lack of football played during 2021 meant that for the first time since 2016 there was no Golazo 50. The return of action in Argentina and around the world has seen plenty of young players get minutes and so once again we took on the task of compiling our standouts.

To be eligible for the list, the players simply need to be born on or after January 1st 1998 (they would all have been eligible to play at the Olympics in 2021)

There is clearly huge room for debate. Clearly the player’s ability and potential is taken into account BUT that is also balanced with what the player may have achieved in senior football, whether they have represented Argentina at some level or made the successful transition to another league. The idea of compiling the list every year is to see that progression from perhaps a talented 17-year-old with little first team experience to hopefully an Argentina regular by the age of 23. In other words, there are plenty of players who missed out on the 50 due to perhaps lacking experience but who have a far higher ceiling than some of those players at the top end of the age range.

From an initial list of well over 100, this is the Golazo 50 2022…

50. Adolfo Gaich
Huesca (loan from CSKA Moscow)

A mixed year for El Tanque. Having failed to make the desired impact at CSKA Moscow, he joined Serie A strugglers Benevento on loan and scored 2 goals in 15 appearances, including a memorable winner away at Juventus. Now in the Spanish second division with Huesca, again on loan, he’s struggled again to find the back of the net on a regular basis. Is it a case of growing pains? Or are his limitations being exposed? Only time will tell. 

49. Carlos Alcaraz
Racing Club
Central midfield

There wasn’t much to shout about for Racing Club during the last season but the emergence of some quality young players gave reason for optimism. All-action Carlos Alcaraz in midfield was one of those and in addition to his bustling, energetic displays the 19-year-old demonstrated a real ability from free-kicks. Alcaraz may be one to thrive under Fernando Gago.

48. Exequiel Zeballos
Boca Juniors

One of a number of exciting young prospects at Boca right now, Exequiel Changuito Zeballos was a star of their reserve league triumph and showed flashes of his electric dribbling on his outings in the first team. Will no doubt play a larger role this year.

47. Darío Sarmiento
Girona (loan from Manchester City)

Plucked out of Estudiantes by Manchester City last year while still only a teenager for decent money is evidence of Darío Sarmiento’s quality. A big reputation despite his limited playing time Sarmiento’s undeniable ability with the ball at his feet earns him his spot on the list.

46. David Ayala
Defensive midfield

Perhaps Davíd Ayala didn’t get quite as many minutes as many expected last season under Ricardo Zielinski but there is no doubting he remains a top defensive midfield talent. An astute ball winner and a smooth operator in possession the 19-year-old ‘cinco’ is another attracting interest from MLS.

45. Valentín Barco
Boca Juniors
23/07/2004 (youngest player in the 50)

If you were to earmark one young full-back in Argentina to go to the very top it would very likely be Valentín Barco. The ginger, 17-year-old became one of Boca’s youngest debutants early in the season before helping the reserves complete a double. Quick, skillful, a killer pass and bags of flair, Barco is one to keep a very close eye on.  

44. Bruno Zapelli
Attacking midfield

One of the most exciting prospects in the Argentinian second division, the classy playmaker looks a cut above the rest and is ready for the jump up to the top flight. Blessed with great vision, technique and range of passing, Zapelli is one to watch for 2022.

43. Federico Navarro
Chicago Fire
Defensive midfield

Yet to really light up MLS since his move to Chicago last year, Federico Navarro could be on the verge of a big 2022. Certainly the 21-year-old’s performances for Talleres would suggest it’s a distinct possibility as Navarro proved himself one of the outstanding number fives in Argentina.

42. Nahuel Bustos
Girona (loan from City Group)

Things haven’t quite gone to plan for Bustos since he left Argentina. Bought by the City group after impressive displays for Talleres, the 23-year-old striker has only managed a handful of goals in the Spanish second division with Girona and you wonder what the next step is for him now. There is still a deadly finisher there but a change of scenery is needed.

41. Luís Vázquez
Boca Juniors

A prolific goal scorer in the Boca reserves having been plucked from Patronato in 2019 and last season the solution to the club’s striker problem. Luis Vázquez scored seven goals to finish as Boca’s top goalscorer and although a new centre-forward will be a priority in this window, Vázquez’s physical presence, aerial ability and all-round play will still be a huge asset to the Xeneize.