Manchester City have confirmed the signing of Argentinian wonderkid Claudio Echeverri from River Plate, who has been described as “the new Messi”.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who scored a hat-trick over Brazil in the quarter-finals of this year’s U17 World Cup, will remain at River for another year on loan before heading to Manchester in January 2025.
He follows in the footsteps of fellow Argentine Julian Alvarez who has taken a very similar career path and is now thriving at City.
We’ve compiled everything you need to know about Echeverri.
The story so far
Born in January 2006 in Resistencia, the capital of the Chaco province of north-east Argentina, Echeverri started out at local amateur side Deportivo Lujan but impressed on a trial with Buenos Aires giants River Plate when he was just 10 years old.
And at the age of just 11, he already began making headlines as a talented youngster worth keeping an eye out for. A 2017 piece in Clarin noted how Echeverri stood out at a seven-a-side youth tournament held in Venice against the likes of Atletico Madrid, Ajax, Juventus and Chelsea.
He scored four against Juventus and ended the tournament with nine goals in six games, earning plaudits for his winning mentality by expressing his dissatisfaction with River finishing third in the tournament.
And there’s no been no stopping his prodigious rise ever since. In October 2022, he made his debut for River’s reserves at the age of 16 and scored against Patronato. He signed his first professional contract a few weeks later and has since made it to the periphery of the first team, with four senior appearances to date.
Local scouts will have been well aware of Echeverri’s potential, but he’s since earned himself international attention with some blinding performances for Argentina in the Under-17 World Cup in Indonesia.
Style of play
Long before his name-making displays in the Under-17 World Cup, the question was asked; Is Claudio Echeverri The Next Lionel Messi?
Eagle-eyed social media users even went as far as to edit one of his goals against Brazil side-by-side with one the era-defining World Cup winner scored against the Selecao.
An attacking midfielder, Echeverri is best used as a classic Argentinian No.10 – the Enganche role, as it’s known in his home country – otherwise called trequartista. Unlike Messi, he’s right-footed but is similarly diminutive in stature (170cm) and shares that low centre of gravity dribbling style.
‘El Diablito’, as he’s come to be known at River, has caught the eye with his exceptional technical ability, vision, and ability to progress the ball in the final third. He’s adept at winning duels with his acceleration and combines well with the wingers and No.9.
Lionel Messi vs. Brazil 🤝 Claudio Echeverri vs. Brazilpic.twitter.com/c63H3Tbr0f
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) November 24, 2023
What’s been said
Argentinian journalist Juan Carlos Pasman wrote up a glowing profile of Echeverri in The Guardian’s Next Generation 2023 series as “an authentic River Plate academy product.
“Talented with excellent close control and dribbling skills, owing to an exceptional first touch, he is a first-rate passer of the ball and can score too.
“He is a classic No 10 in a similar vein to other River graduates, such as Ariel Ortega, Marcelo Gallardo and Pablo Aimar.”
“El Diablito has no roof, because he is old enough not to have one,” youth scout Luis Pereira told LPM.
“He can play in six months in the first season and with a good preseason, surrounded by players who understand that he is a kid and that the sports and soccer world is going to give him a lot of help.”
“In addition to River, I would like to play for Barca. I am a big fan of Messi and I saw him play in Barcelona, so I have had this team inside me since I was very young,” Echeverri said ahead of the Under-17 World Cup.