Fabregas Replacement Ricky Alvarez Can Make Arsenal Great Again

Not only does Ricky Alvarez have the technical abilities beloved by Arsene Wenger, at 6'2" the attacking midfielder would also add a bit of presence to the Arsenal midfield...
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Not only does Ricky Alvarez have the technical abilities beloved by Arsene Wenger, at 6'2" the attacking midfielder would also add a bit of presence to the Arsenal midfield...

It sounded more substantial than mere idle talk from the miked up fraternity. A journalist on a major sports channel in Argentina said that Arsenal – the London one, not the local one – had a brilliant young player’s signature on a pre-contract agreement. No ‘interest’, no ‘talks’, no ‘looking at.’ Signed.

Ricky Alvarez was soon Twitter trending worldwide.

Details surrounding the deal linking the midfielder with a move to England ranged from a potential free transfer to an agreement in excess of £12m.

Something, though, is clearly not quite right. The Argentine papers, packed with headlines about their players moving to Europe, mostly failed to run the story. Surely if there was such a deal in place it would be all over the press, right?

Whether or not there is, was, or will be any interest from Arsenal is still unclear. But perhaps the story isn’t so far-fetched – if there is a player in Argentina that would fit in at Arsenal, Alvarez is amongst the front-runners. Hearing the rumour, one TV commentator - a militant defender of Wenger’s approach – said it was the perfect match, and he’d move to London to see Alvarez at Arsenal.

Together with Erik Lamela, Ricky has been one of the standout stars this season in Argentina, so much so that Javier Zanetti reportedly recommended his bosses at Inter Milan do their utmost to sign him.

Just over a year ago Alvarez finally settled into the side, with first class performances showing excellent control, mazy dribbling skills, good passing and surging runs from deep.

A 6’2” creative midfielder, Ricardo Alvarez has flourished at Vélez Sarsfield. Playing on the left of a midfield three, or midfield four, or even just off the strikers, he has been one of the brightest sparks in the side that is top of the Argentinian league with four games to go, and which has powered its way to the last four of the Libertadores Cup.

Usually deployed behind the attacking trio of Maxi Moralez, Santiago Silva and Juan Manuel Martinez, Ricky has played a deeper and more creative role in the team, perhaps partly explaining the relatively few goals he has scored – he averages one every eight or nine games, despite the odd stunning strike.

First spotted by Ramón Maddoni, the coach who singled out promising 10-year-olds going by the name of Carlos Tevez, Fernando Redondo, Juan Román Riquelme and Esteban Cambiasso amongst others, Alvarez was taken on by Boca Juniors. Yet despite his excellent technique, Boca were concerned about the youngster on their books who didn’t seem to be growing fast enough. They didn’t think he’d make it, and released him.

Alvarez found a new home at Vélez. A growth spurt later, Ricky was ready for first team action.

Knee injuries have limited his appearances, plus Vélez is one of the few clubs in Argentina that doesn’t always rush promising youngsters into the side to sell them on quickly. But just over a year ago Alvarez finally settled into the side, with first class performances showing excellent control, mazy dribbling skills, good passing and surging runs from deep.

Could he succeed at Arsenal and in the EPL? There’s no reason why not. Will he be at the Emirates next season? Maybe he’s already signed…

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