It’s been a relatively quiet January transfer window across the board, as it can often be for many teams, but Manchester City has completed another bit of exciting business as they officially announced the signing of so-called ‘wonderkid’ Claudio Echeverri — but who is he?
The 18-year-old attacking midfielder’s move from Argentine giants River Plate was confirmed on Thursday, 25 January, with Man City confirming that he will be loaned straight back to the club until this time next year.
Operating as an attacking midfielder, it’s fair to say that not only do the Blues have plenty of stars that play in the position but any new signing, no matter how senior, would struggle to find their way into that well-oiled machined.
Being given a contract until 2028 on a deal worth around £12.5 million plus add-ons despite only just turning 18, it’s fair to say City are putting a lot of faith in the highly-promising prospect but why exactly is he being so highly thought of at such a young age?
For starters, it’s worth noting that some of his closest admirers have dubbed him ‘the next Lionel Messi‘, and not just because he’s young and a fellow compatriot.
Playing in an advanced role and predominantly as a classic number 10, the parallels are obvious and given his calmness and composure in front of goal, it didn’t take long for fans and pundits to turn the marriage of nationality, position, goalscoring and a fair amount of skill into the excitable comparison.
With a penchant for dribbling and having already captained Argentina’s youth side to the semi-finals of the U17 World Cup late last year, he’s already had a taster of having the weight of a nation’s hopes on his shoulders in some capacity. That’s the kind of character that should take to the Premier League well.
Scoring nine in six across the tournament, he bagged a hattrick in the quarters against Brazil before they lost on penalties to Germany, earning himself the chance to train with the first-team squad on a number of occasions.
At club level, despite only making six senior appearances for River Plate, he’s already won two trophies with them — the Argentine Primera Division and the Trofeo de Campeones — registering an assist within just four cameo appearances coming off the bench.
Speaking to Sky Sports, South American football expert Tim Vickery, made another key comparison, stating that “Echeverri is taking a similar path as Julián Álvarez: River Plate and Argentina to Manchester City and England – but with significant differences.
“Alvarez went at the age of 22 as a consolidated Argentina international and as the best player in Argentine football.
“Echeverri has only just turned 18 and we’ve hardly seen him in senior Argentine football. Just six games with most of those off the substitutes’ bench. It’s the same journey but with a very different route map.”
Going on to caveat that although dubbing him the next Messi might be getting carried away at this stage, he did insist that the youngster’s “promise is huge”, highlighting his “real pace and changes of pace, changes of rhythm, real knowledge of where to hurt the opposition and attacking space”, in particular.
The consensus seems to be that he’s Claudio Echeverri is definitely one of the future and potentially a talent to build around in the long term and, thankfully, his loan move straight back to his previous club will allow him to keep playing more regular football just as Álvarez did before arriving at the Etihad.
Featured Images — Man City/Claudio Echeverri/Argentine National Team (via Instagram)
Man United striker Rasmus Højlund set to miss Manchester derby as muscle injury rules him out for ‘two to three weeks’
Man United have suffered a pretty big short-term blow as their in-form forward Rasmus Højlund has been diagnosed with a muscle injury which is set to see him out for “two to three weeks”, meaning he will likely miss the upcoming Manchester derby.
The Danish striker has been running red-hot of late, scoring seven in his last six league games for Man United and now sitting as the club’s top marksman with 13 goals and two assists across all competitions, but just as Erik ten Hag’s side look to have got going, they will now be without him for a spell.
Issuing an update on Friday, 23 February, United confirmed that a muscle injury is “expected to rule him out for two to three weeks”, meaning he will miss this weekend’s fixture against Fulham, the FA Cup fifth round against Nottingham Forest and most likely the Manchester derby.
The Red Devils are currently unbeaten in 2024 and on a run of six wins out of their last seven, with Højlund making the difference in many of them.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, ten Hag went on to explain: “It is a small injury. That is what happens and the risk [when you are] playing at high intensity and training.”
The Dutchman reiterated, “As I say it is not a big injury, but he has to wait for one, two, three weeks”, though Reds will nevertheless be gutted to see the 21-year-old sidelined after having now started finding the net and putting together such an impressive run of performances.
While he emphasised that it is not a “big injury”, the timing couldn’t be more frustrating for a team that looks to be finally gathering some momentum, not only in and around the European places already but right on the trail of those chasing down the Champions League spots.
Højlund’s injury only adds to the club’s ever-growing list of players on the physio’s bench, including Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount, Lisandro Martinez and another huge setback in Luke Shaw’s long-term hamstring problems.
In contrast, Manchester City have been lofted by comebacks from both Erling Haaland, who is getting back on the scoresheet once again, and midfielder maestro Kevin De Bruyne as they look to step up the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
The treble-winners were always going to be putting in a very strong title defence but the return of KDB has reminded football fans just exactly how good he is. The Belgian was left on the bench against Brentford due to “minor niggles” but you can fully expect him to be raring to go come derby day.
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.