Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

Who knows, if Real Madrid had Julian Alvarez in their ranks a 0-0 draw with Villarreal could have turned into a 1-0 win and a humiliating home defeat to Champions League minnows FC Sheriff could have become a narrow escape.

That’s because River Plate’s number nine is the sort of player who could find a needle in a haystack from ten miles, a stealthy lock-picker who could break into the Tower of London and steal the crown jewels before you can blink.

In ten league games, Alvarez has five goals and four assists to his name.

The 5ft 7in forward may have played a back-seat role in Argentina’s Copa America win this summer but, if he maintains his current form, it’s only a matter of time before he’s joining Leo Messi and co on Lionel Scaloni’s team sheet. 

And if Real have been watching his development closely, it surely won’t be long before Los Blancos are back on the blower.

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“Madrid couldn’t sign him because he was a minor,” explains Piero Foglia, an esteemed South American talent-spotter, remembering the time Alvarez was denied a dream move to the Santiago Bernabeu a decade ago 

“We had to wait for him to turn 16 and, when we travelled (to Madrid), he was just 11 years old, 

“Alvarez was top scorer (in a youth tournament on Spanish soil) and would have signed for Real if his age allowed. When he returned from Madrid, Boca Juniors wanted him, River (Plate) wanted him. He chose to go to River.” 

How far can Aston Villa and Real Madrid target Julian Alvarez go?

Ten years on, Alvarez is once more starting to cause a stir on this side of the Atlantic.

AC Milan and Ajax have both been linked while, according to The Athletic, Aston Villa showed an interest in taking the £22 million-rated Alvarez to the Premier League in the summer transfer window. 

Photo by Gustavo Pagano/Getty Images

And while some supporters may have doubted the 21-year-old has the ability to fill a Jack Grealish-shaped void in Villa’s front line – he’s not exactly a household name on British shores – the stats speak for themselves.

According to InfoBae, no one under the age of 21 has produced more key passes this season than Alvarez. Not only in South America but also the whole of world football.

That list, in case you’re interested, includes Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Joao Felix and the rampant Vinicius Jr. 

And lest you rush to downplay the quality of the Argentine first division, this is a league more physical and unforgiving than most.

Yet Alvarez continues to float through games without a care in the world, just like the 11-year-old whizz-kid who captured Real Madrid’s heart ten years ago.

Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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