Claudio Echeverri is going to go from River Plate, Argentina, to Manchester City, following the route set out by Julián Álvarez two seasons prior. Although the route is very different, the travel is same.
At the age of 22, Alvarez joined the team as a seasoned international who was regarded as the greatest player in the top division of Argentina. But Echeverri hasn’t really played much in it. He has only made a few appearances for the River Plate senior team, primarily as a substitute, and he is just eighteen years old.
Echeverri, in contrast to Alvarez, is almost exclusively being signed based on promise rather than performance. However, this is how the modern transfer market functions.
It is getting harder and harder to find the narrative of Alvarez, a very talented player who had the time to establish a career in South America. Major European teams are eager to sign the continent’s wonderkids as soon as possible, but FIFA regulations prevent them from moving until the age of 18.
The fact that Echeverri is arguably regarded as the third-greatest hope of his generation says something about him. Even though they are younger, the other two already know where they want to end up when they turn 18.
Six months younger than Echeverri, Endrick is a striker from Brazil who was instrumental in Palmeiras’ recent domestic league victory. In fact, he has made a few substitute appearances for the senior Brazil team. Then there is Kendry Paez of Ecuador, who is a full year and a half younger than Echeverri. Paez is a reliable performer in the first squad of Independiente del Valle and has already scored goals and assisted on others in the World Cup qualifying process.
Paez is en route to Chelsea, while Endrick is headed to Real Madrid. Which raises the question: Is Echeverri truly what Manchester City wants, or is he just the next taxi off the rank? Are City considering that it would be worthwhile to invest somewhat more than £20 million in him given the interest shown by so many other major clubs in him?
Naturally, only time will tell. Echeverri has a great deal of promise. Even before he left his home province of Chaco in northern Argentina to travel to Buenos Aires and join River Plate in the south, there was talk about this talent. And Argentina’s recent Under-17 World Cup run to the semifinals demonstrated all of the promise, particularly in the incredible hat trick he scored to defeat Brazil.
For any youthful and slightly built offensive midfield player from Argentina, being called “the new Messi” is an inevitable and annoying tag. Since Echeverri is right-footed, it falls apart right away in his situation. Still, there’s a lot to be excited about.
Echeverri’s rhythm and tempo shifts are slick. He is adept at creating in the pocket behind the primary striker or using his speed to get behind the final defender. He also knows exactly which spaces to attack and how to cause damage to the opposition.
Furthermore, he doesn’t seem overawed by the senior game based on the admittedly scant evidence. In a recent crucial game against Rosario Central, he entered the game for the last twenty-five minutes and was right away involved, demanding the ball and trying to set up the play.
There’s enough there to make El Diablito (“The Little Devil”) appropriate. It’s more than just a nod to the legendary El Diablo I (also known as “The Devil”), a Bolivian player from the 1990s who shared nearly the same last name (Marco Etcheverry). Although Echeverri is smaller than the original from Bolivia, if he has better luck with injuries, he could harass opponents for longer.
What follows then? He will certainly continue to play in Argentina for another year, since River Plate had hoped City would allow him to stay for a while. January 2025 is when his Premier League journey is scheduled to start. However, their ideal situation would be to hold onto him until mid-2025 so that he could represent them in the first expanded Club World Cup. This doesn’t seem plausible.
It would seem reasonable for City to want to test Echeverri in Europe in the second half of the upcoming season, but River might be able to use some of the other members of their junior squad as leverage in a negotiation. There’s still a chance for a loan transfer to a sister team; according to Argentine media, Girona in Spain is the most likely destination.
Loan agreements can be troublesome since a player who is used to being handled differently may find it difficult to accept being sent off to a team that may not have his best interests in mind in the long run. There are many fatalities from this so-called wonderkid model, stories of careers that falter and never quite get back to their peak.