GOLAZO 50: Argentina’s best young players [Top 10]

The 2022 Golazo 50 concludes here and so if you missed the first parts make sure to go and check them out…

Part One: 50-41

Part Two: 40-31

Part Three: 30-21

Part Four: 20-11

Reminder: To be eligible for the list, the players simply need to be born on or after January 1st 199(they would all have been eligible to play if there had been an Olympic tournament in 2022).

10. Leonardo Balerdi 
Centre back
2021 Golazo ranking: 20

The slight beneficiary of a number of ‘98 born players leaving the Golazo 50, Balerdi has nevertheless really kicked on a level this year. Expectations were high – probably too high – when Borussia Dortmund signed him in 2019 and lack of first team football over the subsequent years saw his star fall. The last six months though has felt like Balerdi has come of age, starting in all but one of Marseille’s league games and statistically being one of the best centre backs in France.  A regular in the Champions League too, if Balerdi keeps up this level he may play his way back into contention for a spot in the national team.

9. Máximo Perrone 
Vélez Sarsfield
Defensive midfielder
New Entry (Highest new entry)

A Libertadores semi final against Flamengo was always likely to be a step too far for Vélez but the untimely injury to Máximo Perrone certainly didn’t help matters. The 19-year-old had played every game during the run up to that point including scoring a vital last minute winner against Nacional while wearing the captain’s armband. Perrone had been an academy player marked out by Gabriel Heinze as one to watch before making his debut and that came to fruition this year. A stylish defensive midfielder who can filter the ball forward with ease, Perrone is another who looks destined to go to the very top.

8. Carlos Alcaraz 
Racing Club
Central Midfielder
2021 Golazo ranking: 49

A huge year for Alcaraz is reflected by his leap up the ranking this year. Not to be confused with the Spanish tennis player, Alcaraz has been a pivotal player for the side that amassed the most points over the course of 2022, contributing 9 goals from midfield, including the extra time winner against Boca to win the Trofeo de Campeones.  Dynamic, energetic and mature beyond his years despite only just turning 20, Alcaraz is one of the best young players still in Argentina. For now. 

7. Alan Velasco 
FC Dallas 
2021 Golazo ranking: 15

The transfer to MLS club FC Dallas may have been underwhelming but Indepediente’s loss has been the gain of US soccer. Alan Velasco remains an exciting talent and notching seven goals and five assists in his debut season before Dallas eventually fell to Austin in the conference semi finals is not to be sniffed at. An electric dribbler capable of conjuring up the unexpected, Velasco will still be hoping for a European move at some point and can look at several MLS examples paving that route before him. 

6. Alan Varela 
Boca Juniors
Defensive Midfielder
2021 Golazo ranking: 37

Initially dropped at the start of the year by Battaglia, Varela ended up playing 42 times and became an indispensable member of Boca’s title-winning squad under Hugo Ibarra.  A dominant general at the base of midfield, Varela excels at breaking up play and providing the platform to build attacks. His eventual reintroduction at the tail end of Boca’s Copa de la Liga campaign was the catalyst in their eventual victory and Ibarra made him a cornerstone of the team that followed it up with the Primera Division title.  All in all, a coming-of-age season which now has people talking of a national team call up.

5. Nehuén Pérez 
Centre back 
2021 Golazo ranking: 23

Arguably a victim of moving too soon. When Atlético Madrid snapped up Nehuén Pérez from Argentinos Juniors in 2018 the youth international was yet to make his way in senior football and so almost on reputation alone the teenager was thrust into the uncertain situation of a series of loan moves. After a couple of underwhelming transfers in Portugal and Spain it is in Udinese where Pérez has made a home and is now pushing once again for Argentina recognition. Lionel Scaloni’s squad selections suggest the 22-year-old remains in his plans for 2023.

4. Facundo Medina 
Centre back
2021 Golazo ranking: 14

A regular in defence for a Lens side sitting second in Ligue 1 at Christmas and boasting the second tightest backline in the division, Medina only just missed out on a spot in Scaloni’s World Cup squad and had to make do with a place as one of the reserves.  A consistent performer in a top European league and with his proximity to the national team set up, it feels as if he’s ready to make the next step up at club and country level.

3. Thiago Almada 
Atlanta United
Attacking midfielder/Forward 
2021 Golazo ranking: 8

The first active MLS player to lift the World Cup, Thiago Almada may have only played a bit part in Argentina’s triumph but nonetheless reminded many of his enormous talent. An impressive debut linking up with Lionel Messi against Honduras coupled with a domestic campaign that produced six goals and seven assists for a disappointing Atlanta side were enough to convince Lionel Scaloni that when Nico González and Joaquín Correa were ruled out of Qatar through injury, Almada was the man to turn to. An interesting year lies ahead with a move to Europe still the goal but now also keeping himself in the national team set up.  

2. Enzo Fernández 
Central midfielder
2021 Golazo ranking: 13

The meteoric rise of Enzo Fernández has been nothing short of staggering – in the space of one year the 21-year-old has gone from helping River Plate to the league title to earning a move to Benfica, shining in the Champions League, winning a World Cup and potentially now making another move for well north of €100 million. For those who saw the midfielder pulling the strings for Defensa y Justicia on loan or wowing under Marcelo Gallardo back at River the versatile talents were clear but even they must be surprised by how quickly Fernández has gone through the gears. The sky is now the limit and Argentina should have an elite midfield presence for the next decade.   

01. Julián Álvarez 
Man City

2021 Golazo ranking: 2

Deciding the top two positions could just as easily have been done with a flip of a coin but after being runner-up last year Julián Álvarez now takes top spot. Much like his former River Plate teammate Enzo Fernández it’s been a remarkable 12 months for the boy from Calchín. His move to Manchester City may have been overshadowed by the arrival of Erling Haaland and leaves Álvarez with more of a supporting cast role but the World Cup cemented his class. Lautaro Martínez looked a dead cert to be the man leading the Albiceleste attack in Qatar but instead it was the Araña who seized the opportunity, harassing defenders, bringing the best out of others and scoring four times on the road to glory.