Argentine soccer: The new kids on the block

For every Juan Roman Riquelme that announces his retirement from soccer, there is some one to take over his shoes immediately. Carlos Tevez is having his problems at West Ham but Alfio Basile does not have to rely on him to do duty for the Argentine team. No knock on Tevez but there are at least a half dozen strikers to take his place.
It is little wonder that Jose Pekerman loved coaching the youth squads of Argentina. They are the best. A huge number are already playing for their senior club squads. The remarkable thing about Argentinian soccer is how it is built around young strikers like Leo Messi, Carlos Tevez, Jorge Saviola and older defenders like Juan Pablo Sorin, Roberto Ayala, Gabriel Heinze, and Nicholas Burdisso.
More established Argentinian players are having a fantastic season with Hernan Crespo leading the way at Inter, Zanetti is the face of Inter soccer with 500 games, Diego Milito, Andres D’ Alessandro, and Pablo Aimar’s skills have helped Zaragoza to the top 5 of the La Liga, Gaby Heinze has come back strong for Man Utd, Messi continues to impress at Barca even with his reduced minutes, and even Inter defender Nicholas Burdisso chipped in with a hat trick against Messina.
Strikers:
Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero: The youngest player to debut for an Argentinian first division club at 15 years and 35 days, for Independiente against San Lorenzo. He was reportedly transferred to Atletico Madrid for 23 million euros in 2005, the most expensive signing in club history. He is 18 years old and has played a couple of games for the Argentine squad.
Rodrigo Palacio: The 24 year old striker is having a fantastic year at Boca. Ricardo La Volpe’s team will win this year’s Apertura on the strength of his league leading 12 goals. He has already done duty for Basile’s side, playing 3 matches.
Mauro Zairate: This 19 year old striker has propelled Velez Sarsfield to 5th place and shares the top spot with Palacio with 12 goals.
Federico Higuain: The 22 year old Nueva Chicago striker, has scored half his side’s goals with 9. He is like Darren Bent, a top scoring striker of Charlton, playing in a club facing perennial relegation. Will be transferred soon to a contender like Boca or River Plate.
Gonzalo Higuain: The 19 year old River Plate striker, and younger brother of Federico, has scored 7 goals in River Plate’s third place finish. He is French of Argentinian origin, just like David Trezeguet and can play for both Argentina or France. His skills have already attracted interest from Real Madrid, Man Utd, AC Milan, PSG, and OM. A transfer to Real seems possible in the near future but presently River has him signed on till June 2007 after turning down a 10 million euro fee from Real.
Fernando Cavenaghi: The River Plate striker who scored 55 goals in 88 matches moved to Spartak Moscow in 2004. It has been a bit of a struggle in the new system but Cavenaghi seems to be picking up. There are rumours that he will be heading out to the Serie, possibly to AS Roma.
Midfielders:
Fernando Gago: The 22 year old Boca Junior midfielder is being compared to Fernando Redondo and Juan Roman Riquelme for his ability to dictate the pace of the game with his touch. High praise indeed. He is being courted by Real Madrid along with Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Belluschi.
Neri Cardozo: He is a 20 year old attacking midfielder for Boca Juniors. Cardozo was part of the Lionel Messi squad that won the 2005 Youth squad. He is fast, dynamic, and packs some awesome power in his shots. Both Gago and Cardozo are the two big reasons that this year’s Boca team is fun to watch.
Fernando Belluschi: The 23 year in his first season at River Plate is the best of the lot of young talents in midfield and is being touted for a transfer to Real or to Atletico Madrid by June 2007. If he does this he will follow the player he lionizes, Maxi Rodriguez aka The Fierce One who also came through Newell’s Old Boys and is presently playing for Atletico Madrid. Rodriguez tore his ACL and is out for 6 months.

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