Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone said he is a big fan of Julian Alvarez but warned the reported Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur that he has proved nothing yet, while speaking to Ole.
And, sooner rather than later, Dean Smith may be wishing he could turn back the clock.
Because, while Villa are expected to renew their interest in Alvarez during the winter months, they will face competition this time around from AC Milan, Inter, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen, not to mention Premier League rivals Tottenham (Calciomercato).
With seven goals and four assists in just 11 games this season – including a match-winning brace in the Super Clasico victory over bitter rivals Boca Juniors – it seems only a matter of time before Alvarez is packing his bags and crossing the Atlantic.
But, as one of Argentina’s favourite footballing sons is at pains to point out, the 21-year-old is far from the finished product just yet.
Could Atletico Madrid make a move for Julian Alvarez?
“He has shown important things but he is still young. He may have a moment when his level will drop and we will see what kind of player he is once he leaves (River Plate),” Simeone said of a man who very nearly joined Atletico’s Madrid neighbours Real a decade ago.
“When they explode so young, then there is a period where you go down because it is normal. There comes a time when you don’t score so many goals, your rhythm slows down, you are less precise.
“We will see how he comes out of that and then we’ll see we the player he’ll be. I like him because he has strength, speed, he has scores goals, has a good shot. Hopefully, he can maintain (his form).
“Any footballer, if he plays for the National team or for River, is good. I tell them when they come to Atletico: I’m not going to talk to them about how they have to play, because if they come to Atlético, they are good.
“But playing well is not enough. If they only play well, it is not enough.”
Alvarez, who celebrated Copa America glory alongside Lionel Messi and co a few months ago, has a very affordable £22 million release clause in his contract.
It is believed that River Plate may accept £17 million, however, with just 14 months remaining before Alvarez becomes a free agent.