There is no doubt about Lionel Messi’s otherworldly skills even at FIFA 22. Arguably the greatest player to ever kick a ball (although Pele, Maradonna and Ronaldo may have something to say about that), the Argentine is treated with an almost religious reverence in his home country. Every time you watch the man play, it’s like a privilege. And over the years, he has broken more records than a passionate but extremely careless music fan. Unfortunately, at 34, he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning. But when he finally retires, who will be the star of the national team? Get ready, because we rank 5 of Messi’s compatriots who have the potential to step out of his shadow and become stars in their own right.
FIFA RANKINGS- Top Argentine Players #5: Julian Alvarez (Manchester City)
While Manchester City fans are understandably excited about the summer signing of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, another incoming striker could just as easily get them out of their seats next season.
Julian Alvarez, who signed for £14 million (€16.3 million) from River Plate, is a highly rated striker with an impressive goal-scoring record in South America. He scored 53 goals in 118 appearances for Los Millonarios and became the first player in the club’s 121-year history to score 6 goals in the same game in an incredible performance against Allianza Lima in the Copa Libertadores in May. When Messi finally hangs up his boots, can Alvarez fill the void?
FIFA RANKINGS- Top Argentine Players #4: Lautaro Martinez (Internazionale)
Lautaro Martinez is one of the hottest strikers in Europe at the moment, coveted by several big clubs. His former manager Antonio Conte, now in charge at Tottenham, would be “crazy” about him. And when you look at his record of goals in Serie A, it is easy to understand why.
In 2021-22, Lautaro Martinez scored 21 goals in 35 appearances for Internazionale. The previous season, he scored 17 times in 38 games, helping the Nerazzurri win the title. And his international statistics are no less impressive. Selected 38 times by the Albiceleste, Lautaro Martinez scored 20 goals. With such a prolific record, it’s no wonder he’s received praise from none other than – you guessed it – Lionel Messi, who described him as “spectacular”.
FIFA RANKINGS- Top Argentine Players #3: Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United)
It’s early days in the career of 17-year-old Alejandro Garnacho, but the signs are promising. After joining Manchester United from Atletico Madrid in 2020, the winger was called up to the Argentine senior team in March 2022 and made his club debut a few months later. He also managed to score twice in the FA Youth Cup final.
New United boss Erik Ten Hag was impressed with what he saw and rumor has it that he expressed a desire to speed him up in the first team setup at Old Trafford. Another admirer is Javier Mascherano, the former Liverpool and Barcelona star who is now in charge of the Argentine U20 team.
“Alejandro is a great player with great potential for growth,” said Mascherano. “It’s clear that playing for the club he plays for, and especially the importance his club places on him for the future, it’s up to him to show what he can do.”
Can he fill Messi’s boots? Watch this space.
FIFA RANKINGS- Top Argentine Players #2: Enzo Fernandez (River Plate)
While free-scoring Julian Alvarez has rightly attracted a lot of attention at River Plate, it’s another of the club’s youngsters who could become their country’s leading star. Enzo Fernandez is a box-to-box midfielder who has scored 9 goals and recorded 6 assists in 24 league and cup games for Los Millonarios this season.
And that form has earned the 21-year-old a big move to Europe. According to some rumors, English champions Manchester City are interested in obtaining his services, along with AC Milan, Juventus and Wolves. But the Portuguese giants Benfica have stepped in with an estimated price of 10 million euros plus 8 million euros in bonuses, which could prove to be a good deal given the potential of the Argentine.
Enzo Fernandez has not yet been selected at the international level, but one would think that it is only a matter of time. What’s particularly eye-catching is that almost all of his shots have been from outside the box; he certainly has a knack for scoring spectacular goals. And if his explosion on the scene this season is anything to go by, we could see a rapid rise.
FIFA RANKINGS- Top Argentine Players #1: Cristian Romero (Tottenham)
Okay, so Cristian Romero is a completely different type of player than Lionel Messi. The center back is a rumbling, uncompromising presence for club and country, but there is no denying his star quality.
Tottenham fans – who undoubtedly have a soft sport for the Argentine, having sung the names of Osvaldo Ardiles, Ricky Villa and Mauricio Pochettino over the years – have turned to the Cordoban as if he were one of their own. Having joined the club from Atalanta last summer, he excelled in his first season in the Premier League and played a major role in Spurs’ qualification for the UEFA Champions League.
But Cristian Romero’s international record is even more impressive. Argentina has not conceded in any of their last 9 games when the defender has played. This is one of the reasons why Messi would have desperately wanted his former club, Barcelona, to sign his compatriot before Spurs made a move.
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