River Plate star Julian Alvarez almost joined Real Madrid before emerging as a target for Premier League outfit Aston Villa, experienced talent-spotter Piero Foglia has told Radio Colonia, via El Intransigente.
If it wasn’t for pesky La Liga laws, the Copa America champion would have put pen to paper with arguably the biggest club in world football long before he’d even made his professional debut.
Alvarez was just 11 years old when Real Madrid came calling.
But much to the frustration of a man who unearthed this diamond in the rough, strutting his stuff for home-town club Atletico Calchin, age restrictions stopped the starlet from enrolling in the fabled La Fabrica academy.
Aston Villa and Real Madrid may return for Julian Alvarez in 2022
“The footballer we are most proud of today is Julian Alvarez,” says Foglia, who now works as sporting director at Club Deportivo Atalaya.
“Madrid couldn’t sign him because he was a minor. We had to wait for him to turn 16 and, when we travelled, he was just 11 years old.”
Real were as disappointed as the player himself when discovering an agreement wasn’t possible, especially after Alvarez shone during a youth cup final victory over Real Betis, setting up the only goal of the game (Goal).
“Alvarez was top scorer in that tournament and would have signed for Real if his age allowed him. When he returned from Madrid, Boca Juniors wanted him, River (Plate) wanted him. He chose to go to River.
“If there had been the same regulation with which (Lionel) Messi signed for Barcelona, Julian would have signed for Real Madrid.”
It seems only a matter of time before Alvarez, a sprightly, squirrelling number ten, finally makes the move across the Atlantic with Ajax, AC Milan and Aston Villa showing interest in the summer transfer window (The Athletic).
Another season like the last one and the River Plate talisman will be packing his bags soon enough.