Golazo 50 2021: Argentina’s best young players [40-31]

If you missed part one you can read it here (along with some explanation of the 50).

The list was compiled by and all entries written by Peter Coates and Tom Robinson. An accompanying podcast discussing the list will be released after the entire 50 is published.

40. Rodrigo Villagra
Defensive midfield

Rewarded for his impressive performances for Rosario Central in the league and Copa Sudamericana, the 20-year-old made the switch to Córdoba and seamlessly slotted into the gap left by Federico Navarro at the base of the Talleres midfield. Although Talleres just fell short in the league and Copa Argentina, Villagra will still be proud of his progression this year.

39. Juan José Cáceres
Racing Club

The young right back broke through into the Racing first team this year and was a big player in their run to the Copa de la Liga final. A willing runner, uncompromising in the tackle and an aerial threat going forward, Cáceres popped up with a couple of goals in the Libertadores too. With the lack of options for the national team, it will be interesting to see if Cáceres can develop into a viable option.

38. Francisco Ortega
Vélez Sarsfield

The academy at Vélez are always well represented in these lists and few young players have racked up as much game time as Francisco Ortega over the past year or so. The 22-year-old marauding left-back provides plenty of width and has been a key figure for Argentina at youth level too. In a position where the Albiceleste aren’t exactly blessed with options, Ortega may yet be able to kick on.

37. Alan Varela
Boca Juniors
Defensive midfield

A Copa Argentina triumph aside it was a largely disappointing 2021 for Boca but the renewed focus on youth saw a number of exciting talents breakthrough. Alan Varela was one of them and the Xeneize midfield looks in decent hands with the 20-year-old sitting at the base to breakup and dictate play.

36. Matías Palacios
FC Basel
Attacking midfield

One of the most gifted players of his generation, Palacios won’t have received much attention since his departure from San Lorenzo but he is settling in nicely in Switzerland at Basel. Still not a guaranteed starter, the 19-year-old has nevertheless already amassed over 25 appearances for the RotBlau and will no doubt become a bigger name in years to come.

35. Cristian Medina
Boca Juniors
Central midfield

The battle for midfield starts at Boca this year was intense with a number of academy graduates vying with the more experienced members of Sebastián Battaglia’s squad. Cristian Medina may have wanted a few more minutes but he remains one of Boca’s most talented youngsters. The 19-year-old is something of an all-rounder – a good passer, decent tackler and able to get forward to support the attack.

34. Pedro de la Vega

It seems harsh to say that we expected more from Pepo this year given that he’s still only 20 but when you know how good he can be, high expectations come with the territory. 36 appearances seems decent on the surface but most of these have come from the bench and 4 goals is a fairly meagre return for a player of his ability. Hopefully 2022 sees a renewed focus for one of our favourite prospects.

33. Martín Ojeda
Godoy Cruz

A real prospect at Ferro Carril Oeste, off the radar after a move to Racing Club in 2017 and suddenly an outstanding season with Godoy Cruz. Martín Ojeda’s twelve goals in 23 league games put him among the top scorers in Argentina and left many in Avellaneda scratching their heads. Now 23 years of age will it prove to be the campaign that really pushes Ojeda on to even greater things?

32. Luca Orellano
Vélez Sarsfield

While Almada understandably gets most of the attention at Vélez, the bleach blonde winger has been steadily improving and consistently showing what an exciting player he is. 2021 has been the year he established himself in the first team, playing 43 times and scoring 5 goals. Expect more focus on him this year as Orellano emerges from Almada’s shadow.

31. Sergio Barreto

Independiente’s dire financial situation has seen an increased reliance on youth and for many it’s been sink or swim. In the case of Sergio Barreto it’s very much been the latter and in an otherwise pretty miserable time for El Rojo the 22-year-old has become a real fan favourite. A fierce competitor, strong in the tackle and the air, Barreto is the cornerstone of Independiente’s backline.