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South American expert Tim Vickery believes River Plate star Julian Alvarez could be a “fantastic” addition to Aston Villa, telling talkSPORT (14 July, 3pm) the Argentina international has comparisons with the legendary Gary Shaw. 

YouTube compilations can be deceiving, of course, but as Villa fans poured over grainy footage of Alvarez in action, pulse rates in the claret and blue half of England’s Second City will have risen substantially.

The River Plate schemer is a hugely exciting footballer.

Whether skipping away from tackles while barely breaking sweat, drifting out wide to leave full-backs dazed and confused, or finishing off chances with devastating dexterity, a rumoured £15 million transfer fee looks a bargain for a 21-year-old overflowing with potential. 

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HITC Sevens (Youtube)

Aston Villa have been linked with a shock swoop for Alvarez since the middle of June. And speculation went into overdrive at the weekend when TNT Sport claimed his agent was heading to England for talks. 

And while comparisons will inevitably be drawn with Argentina’s many big-name forwards – from Paulo Dybala to Angel Di Maria via a certain Barcelona superstar – Vickery feels Alvarez has a lot in common with a Birmingham-born, Holte End hero. 

Aston Villa eye River Plate star Alvarez

“(Alvarez) is a fantastic player. This (transfer report) will warm the cockles of the heart of every Villa supporter. He reminds me of the great Gary Shaw,” Vickery says, highlighting the similarities between Alvarez and the 1982 European Cup winner. 

“Alvarez is very mobile. He’s really bright and intelligent, he can take the ball any way it comes, he combines very well.  

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“The only little doubt is where you play him. In the old days of 4-4-2, he’s the second striker. He’s (Peter) Beardsley.  

“You want him central. He’s a really classy player and, if Villa do land him, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful.” 

Vickery has a point. 

For all of Alvarez’s eye-catching, squirrel-on-a-phone-line talents, it isn’t easy to see where he’d fit into Dean Smith’s XI.

Even Jack Grealish has been forced into a wide-left role to influence games to the best of his ability. 

Then again, the arrival of Emi Buendia and the ongoing pursuit of Emile Smith Rowe does suggest Smith will look to find a place in his preferred 4-3-3 formation for an orthodox, old-school number ten. 

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

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