Like Brazil, Argentina is crawling with cheap, young talent that can develop into five-star players with the right guidance in terms of playing time, tutoring and focussed training. Argentina, and South America generally, is famous for its flair style of football, encouraging individual expression over working within a team structure. Therefore, expect to find skilful, flair players, especially in the more advanced positions.
Naturally, to limit the number of players to choose from, all of our Argentinian wonderkids are aged either 20 or under, plus we’ve included their value, wages, current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA), coupled with a breakdown of their statistics so you can have the full picture when it comes to choosing which of our picks to pursue.
Augusto Batalla, 20, GK, River Plate (£1.3m, £3k p/w, CA 2 - PA 3.5)
At 20-years-old, River’s Batalla has the makings of a potentially top-class goalkeeper. Mentally, he’s already determined (18), focussed (13), brave (13) and in the right positions (13). He’s also strong (14) and has good jumping reach (13), aided his overall command of his area (12). Technically, moreover, Batalla has good handling (15), throwing (13), plus, importantly, he’s strong in one-on-one situations (13) and his reflexes (12) allow him to react well to the unexpected during games. To have these attributes at a young age is impressive and means he’s only likely to improve in the future.
Néstor Breitenbruch, 20, CB/RB, Independiente (£1.3m, £25 p/w, CA 2.5 - PA 4.5)
As I mentioned about Brazilian wonderkids, the great thing about scouting the South American leagues is that the players, especially those under the age of 21, will be extremely cheap in terms of their transfer fees and wages. Breitenbruch, the 20-year-old centre-back, for example, earns only £25 per week as he’s still on a youth contract. Moreover, his contract expires in June 2017, so he’s available to sign for a compensatory fee of £1.6m. He’s able to play as a right back, but I think his base attributes suggest he’s best in the centre; his tackling and marking are 14, his heading 13 and positioning 12. Moreover, his standout attribute is definitely his composure, which Football Manager rank as 20. Breitenbruch is also determined (13) and hard-working (15). Physically, he’s a strong (15), fit (16) and quick (15) centre-back. Given that he’s still young, his concentration (11), bravery (6) and decision-making (9) need improvement, though that will occur naturally playing in a higher quality league. For £1.6m, Breitenbruch is worth the gamble.
Francisco Delorenzi, 18, CB, Independiente (£650k, £25 p/w, CA 2 - PA 4.5)
Another cheap Independiente centre-back, Delorenzi is two years the junior of his teammate Breitenbruch, and, thus, cheaper. Delorenzi is available for a cheap £690k compensation fee because of his age and youth contract status. Moreover, he, too, is earning a minuscule £25 p/w, making him a perfect young signing for teams outside the top-flight to either nurture for the future or sell on for profit after a couple of seasons. His stand out attribute is his natural fitness (16), but Delorenzi is already a very capable defender; marking, tackling and positioning are 14, whilst heading is 13. Whilst his decision-making and anticipation are impressive 14s, his work rate (9), composure (6) and bravery (10) are disappointing. However, his determination of 12 suggests that Delorenzi is ready to work hard in the future to improve himself. For £950k, again this centre-back is worth a try.
Gonzalo Escobar, 19, LB, Temperley (£575k, £25 p.w, CA 2 - PA 4.5)
Pablo Escobar’s Argentinian namesake, Gonzalo, is available, again cheaply, for a compensatory fee of £725k, which is affordable for a significant number of clubs outside of the top-flight. Whilst Escobar’s determination (10), concentration (8) and stamina (9) are not yet up to scratch, the left back is only 19 and these are attributes that can be improved over time. Moreover, technically, he’s a very capable defender for someone so young. His marking is 11 and tackling 13, but importantly for a fullback, he offers a threat going forwards with his 15-rated crossing and 12-rated dribbling. All of this is underpinned by his work rate (12), meaning he will work as hard a he can on the left flank until his legs give way. A season or two in a better standard league will aid Escobar’s development astronomically.
Andrés Cubas, 20, DM, Boca Juniors (£950k, £3.5k, CA 3 - PA 5)
Don’t be deceived by Andrés Cubas’s £950k transfer value, as he’s a fantastic young player than Boca Juniors are very unlikely to want to sell. It may take an offer of around £7.5m to actually sign the defensive midfielder, though it’s a fee that’s still affordable for most top-flight clubs. If you’re a mid-table club in the top-flight, Cubas would be a great signing. This is because he’s actually good enough to start for a top team. This is because, as a deep-lying playmaker, he can pass (14), which is aided by his technique (12), first touch (14) and vision (14). His tackling, too, is a solid 13. Mentally is where Cubas really stands out, however, His work rate (17), teamwork (15) and positioning (16) are extremely impressive. So too, are his composure (15), bravery (14), determination (14) and anticipation (18). I’ve signed Cubas in the past for a fee upwards of £40m, however, so don’t make the same mistake I did and sign him immediately!
Julián Vitale, 20, DM/CM, Independiente (£1.5m, £4k p/w, CA 2.5 - PA 4.5)
Another Independiente player, Julián Vitale is actually on a proper, senior contract at the club, though his £4k p/w wages are not extortionate by any means and a very easily affordable. He’d be worth a gamble at his low price since he’s versatile enough to play in a defensive midfield role, or more advanced in the centre of midfield. As a defensive midfielder, Vitale is aided by his tackling (12), marking (16), heading (13), positioning (13), work rate (12) and stamina (13). However, Vitale can also occupy a deep-lying playmaker role in a central midfield position. This is because of his passing (13), technique (12), first touch (13), composure (13) and vision (12). Overall, Vitale is an all-round central midfielder, so for roughly £3.7m, you’d essentially be signing two players in one.
Santiago Ascacibar, 19, CM, Estudiantes (LP) (£1.8m, £3.1k p/w, CA 2.5 - PA 4.5)
Although Ascacibar doesn’t offer much outside of his ball-winning role in the centre of midfield, he’s a very capable defensive option in the middle of the park, a role that is increasingly important in the modern game of advanced fullbacks, requiring an anchor man, almost, to protect the two centre-backs. This is a role that Ascacibar can provide for you. Physically, he’s strong (15) and fit (14), meaning he’ll put up a fight for the entirety of the game for you, which is coupled with his impressively high work rate of (16). His bravery (16) also means he won’t shirk from a tough challenge that could result in injury. Technically, Ascacibar is a capable tackler (14), marker (15), underlaid by his positioning (14). For roughly £3.5m, Ascacibar is a good option for a young, cheap defensive midfield option.
Sebastián Driussi, 20, AM LC/ST, River Plate (£1.6m, £4.7k p/w, CA 2.5 - PA 5)
Get in there quick with the versatile Driussi as the game begins with a high level of interest in the wide attacking midfielder, Arsenal and Chelsea reportedly ready to launch bids to bring him to the Premier League. A worthwhile signing it would be, however, if you can win the race for his signature as Driussi is well-versed as an attacking midfielder, either left or centre, or as a ‘false nine’ style centre forward. A left-sided inside forward is his natural position, though. Technically, Driussi can cross (11), dribble (15), finish (13) and pass (12), all of which is aided by his first touch (14), technique (15), vision (13) and flair (14). Mentally, moreover, Driussi is fairly hard-working (12), determined (14) and composed (12). It’s his versatility, however, that makes him such an appealing signing.
Lautaro Martínez, 18, ST, Racing Club (£1m, £1.8k p/w, CA 2.5 - PA 5)
Martínez possesses a combination of different attributes making him suitable for a number of forward roles, such as advanced forward, false nine and trequartista, though he’s most adept at playing as an advanced forward. This is because he can pass (12), head (12), dribble (14) and finish (15), all solid ratings for the position’s base attributes. Whilst his first touch (8) may let him down, he compensates with good technique (15). It’s important for strikers to have good off the ball movement, which Martínez has (13). Moreover, he works hard (12), is composed (12) and anticipates the game extremely well (17).
Maximiliano Romero, 17, ST, Vélez (£1.5m, £2k p/w, CA 2 - PA 4.5)
I don’t think Romero is first-team ready for a top-flight club just yet, but he certainly has the potential to reach world-class level, given that he’s only 17-years-old and nowhere near the peak of his career. With his age in mind, his attributes are already impressive. He’s best served as a poacher in the centre forward position, because of his finishing (13) and first touch (11). Moreover, his off the ball movement (14) also aids his ability as a poacher to be in the right space at the right time to get on the end of attacking moves; the primary job of a poacher. His acceleration (13), furthermore, will assist his ability to beat defenders for speed and break the offside trap. Overall, Romero is a solid young signing with mounds of potential and is basically risk-free at roughly £3.7m.