The Primera Division has taken its summer break as temperature soar in Argentina but several players have caught the eye during 2016 and could be next off the conveyor belt to grace the top European leagues. Here are five that are already attracting considerable interest….
Lucas Alario: Forward, River Plate
Having already been handed his Argentina debut in September, Edgardo Bauza has referred to Lucas Alario as ‘the future’ and it’s not difficult to see why given his exploits for River Plate over the past 18 months. While La Albiceleste have floundered under the weight of expectation in major finals, centre-forward Alario has displayed an unerring, cool streak in front of goal to help Marcelo Gallardo’s side to three major titles.
31 goals from 57 appearances is an impressive haul for the 24-year-old and after helping River to the Copa Libertadores, Recopa Sudamericana and Copa Argentina, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan and Tottenham are now all said to be taking an interest.
Cristian Pavón: Forward, Boca Juniors
Prodigiously talented, blessed with electrifying pace and an eye for goal, Cristian Pavón has been one to watch since bursting into hometown club Talleres’ first team as a teenager. Following a disappointing Olympic tournament with Argentina in Brazil, the 20-year-old returned to La Bombonera and cemented a place in Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s plans for this season.
Adding a consistency and end-product that had previously been lacking, Pavón’s six goals and three assists have fired Boca to the top of the Primera. A couple of fierce long range golazos have really caught the eye and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly willing to trigger his $18 million release clause.
Santiago Ascacibar: Midfielder, Estudiantes
It is perhaps little coincidence that Estudiantes’ upturn in form over the past year has coincided with the emergence of defensive midfield lynchpin Santiago Ascacibar. The 19-year-old has, with some justification, established himself as the best ball-winning midfielder in Argentina and been immediately compared to Javier Mascherano.
Despite his diminutive stature, Ascacibar is a buzzing presence in front of the back four, and his well-timed tackles provide a structure and foundation for Estudiantes to build on. An efficient, if not expansive passer of the ball, El Ruso possesses a tactical awareness that belies his years and will be sorely missed should he leave La Plata.
Marcos Acuña: Midfielder, Racing Club
A clásico victory aside, it has been a frustrating few months for Racing Club but while results have been inconsistent and led to Ricardo Zielinski’s departure, Marcos Acuña has invariably been superb. The 24-year-old added five goals and four assists to Racing’s tally and his creativity prompted Edgardo Bauza to call him for his last Argentina squad as a genuine alternative to Angel Di María on the left.
El Huevo might be something of a late bloomer but has the work ethic, passing ability and dribbling to make a real impact elsewhere. Marseille were linked with a January move but with Oscar Romero already out the door, La Academia need Acuña.
Sebastián Driussi’s rise from promising River Plate fringe player to the Primera’s most dangerous striker has been nothing short of meteoric. Struggling to find his best position, the 20-year-old could have left the club on loan but has instead been paired with Lucas Alario in attack, scored ten goals in thirteen matches and leads the scoring charts.
Hard working with intelligent movement, a quick burst of acceleration and a clinical finisher, Driussi looks primed for a move to Europe sooner rather than later and Atlético Madrid and Tottenham are already being strongly linked.