30. Martín Payero
It would be easy to dismiss Martín Payero’s place on this list due to a difficult start to life in England following his surprise move to Middlesbrough. However, the midfielder’s role in Banfield’s run to the Copa Diego Maradona final at the start of 2021 cannot be understated and the Taladro have sorely missed both his drive and penalty box deliveries since.
29. Luka Romero
The 17-year-old may not have featured too much this year but his enormous potential means he can’t be omitted from the list. The youngest player in history to play in La Liga, Romero mainly had to make do with picking up experience for Mallorca II but was snapped up by Lazio in the summer and has already made his Serie A debut. There’s a long way to go but the future looks very bright indeed.
28. Matías Soulé
Yet to really make a mark on senior football it would be impossible to ignore Matías Soulé given his reputation and the fact that Lionel Scaloni has already called him to the Argentina squad. Juventus saw enough of the teenager to pinch him from Vélez Sarsfield and after dazzling for the youth sides Soulé is on the brink of a first team breakthrough.
27. Nicolás Castro
Newell’s Old Boys
Another of the breakout prospects from the latest top flight campaign, Castro provided goals and assists from midfield and was one of the few bright sparks for La Lepra. Long heralded as an exciting player, he is now showing it on a regular basis and is attracting plenty of interest.
26. Tomás Cuello
Tomás Cuello’s loan switch to Red Bull Bragantino proved to be a revelation and really put the 21-year-old on the map. The lively winger hadn’t yet made much of a statement with boyhood club Atlético Tucumán yet slotted into the Brazilian club’s eleven to great effect helping them to the final of the Copa Sudamericana. What comes next for Cuello will be very interesting.
25. José Manuel López
One of the biggest surprises of the Primera season, the 21-year-old forward scored 13 goals and formed a fantastic strike partnership with fellow Corrientes native Pepe Sand, despite being 20 years his junior. Great in the air and a danger arriving late in the box, it will be fascinating to see whether he can maintain his great form this year and prove he is the real deal.
24. Giuliano Galoppo
The second half of 2021 proved much tougher for Giuliano Galoppo and Banfield but the midfielder’s five goals pushed the Taladro to the Copa Diego Maradona final at the start of the year. Losing teammates Martín Payero and Jorge Rodríguez and later Alejandro Cabrera to injury unbalanced the midfield and hindered Galoppo but it was with good reason that a host of clubs were eying the 22-year-old before that.
23. Nehuén Pérez
Udinese (loan fro Atlético Madrid)
A disappointing year for Pérez who failed to make a huge impression on loan at either Granada or Udinese; his breakout season at Famalicao before the pandemic feels a long time ago now. Still only 21 and with an enormous ceiling, there is still plenty of time for Perez to rediscover his form but he has certainly seen his star slightly fall over the past 12 months.
22. Santiago Simón
The latest gem from the River Plate academy, Simon stepped up and became a regular in Marcelo Gallardo’s title winning side with ease. Displaying maturity beyond his years and giving the Millonario midfield dynamism and energy, there are shades of Exequiel Palacios about him and expect him to kick on even more in 2022.
21. Gastón Avila
Competition for a starting spot at Boca Juniors will be intense but Gastón Ávila is up to the challenge after a spell back at boyhood club Rosario Central last year established the 20-year-old as one of the best central defensive prospects in Argentina. Physically strong yet comfortable on the ball, Ávila can stride into midfield and has an excellent left boot to pick a pass.