Picking an Argentina Next-Generation XI

Dan Colasimone@@ArgentinaFWContributor IAugust 15, 2013

Picking an Argentina Next-Generation XI

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    Argentina represents one of the most fertile seedbeds in the world when it comes to producing professional footballers.

    The quality of the young players emerging from the country was once reflected in its dominance of under-age tournaments.

    Between 1995 and 2007, for example, Argentina won five out of the seven FIFA U-20 World Cups that were contested, with the likes of Javier Saviola, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi lighting up the competition.

    In recent years, there has been a decline in the country's performances at junior tournaments, as the process for developing youth footballers in Argentina has become disorganized on a structural level.

    Young footballers leaving for foreign shores after having barely played a season or two in Argentina's domestic league is another factor which has weakened the U-20 and U-23 Albiceleste sides, as there is less continuity in the learning process of players on an individual and group level.

    That is not to say, though, that Argentina's talent pool has dried up.

    There are still a host of youngsters making their mark at a domestic and international level with every new season.

    Here we select a side made up of prodigious Argentine players who may not yet be established in the senior national side (though a couple are already working their way in) but could be making up the backbone of the squad by the time the 2018 World Cup rolls around.

    We're playing a 3-4-3, purely because that way we can fit more midfield and attacking players in.

Goalkeeper

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    Agustin Marchesin

    Club: Lanus

    Age: 25

    At 25, the Lanus shot-stopper is no spring chicken, but with goalkeeping stocks fairly limited in Argentina at present, and Sergio Romero (26) doing a solid job between the sticks for the national side, Marchesin is likely to be the man playing backup for the foreseeable future.

    Judging by recent squad selections, the strong-willed Marchesin is third in Sabella's current pecking order behind the Sampdoria No. 1 and Catania's Mariano Andujar (30).

    Also deserving of a mention is another Lanus goalie, Esteban Andrada, who, at 22, could be pushing Marchesin to push Romero by the 2018 World Cup.

    Having played over a century of games for Lanus, it is surprising that Marchesin has not been picked up by a European club yet.

    He is a leader at the back for his side who gives off an aura of poise and stability.

    With top-notch reflexes and a formidable physique, Marchesin is a goalkeeper that knows how to do his job, and do it well.

     

     

     

Defense

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    Gino Peruzzi

    Club: Catania

    Age: 21

    This kid has been playing with all the smarts of a veteran defender since he debuted with Velez back in 2010, and the best part is, he gets better with every passing year as his body matures.

    As he evolves from a lanky right-back to a strapping right-back, Peruzzi has gone from a smart, hard-to-pass defender to a real force of nature down the right side.

    Peruzzi can now gallop forward with confidence as well as defend with swagger.

    With Football Italia reporting that the player has completed a move to Serie A outfit Catania, it will be exciting to witness the next phase of his highly promising career.

     

    Lisandro Lopez

    Club: Benfica

    Age: 23

    No, not that Lisandro Lopez. The Arsenal (no, not that Arsenal) product was one of the Primera Division's best centre-backs during his time in Argentina, and now that he has made the move to Portugal his development should continue on its upward trajectory.

    His tremendous aerial ability alone makes him a valuable asset both in defense and attack, but he is also a savvy reader of play and imposing stopper.

     

    Nicolas Tagliafico

    Club: Murcia

    Age: 20

    His claim to fame was once that he was a Barcelona target, and although Tagliafico did not make that career-defining transfer, he has moved to Spain with Murcia. 

    Playing in a position which Argentina has struggled to fill at national team level should be cause for optimism for this ex-Banfield player.

    If he can establish himself as a consistent performer in European football, he will no doubt get the attention of Albiceleste coach Alejandro Sabella, especially since he has played well for his country at under-age levels.

    Known for his excellent temperament and composed defending, the diminutive Tagliafico is also comfortable on the ball and effective when he wanders forward.

Midfield

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    Ezequiel Cirigliano

    Club: Hellas Verona

    Age: 21

    Often likened to Javier Mascherano, Cirigliano possesses a touch less aggression than his fellow River Plate alumni, though he has the potential to become far more developed as a deep-lying playmaker.

    At his best, the new Hellas Verona signing can be the hub of his team, controlling the tempo of the game from the back of midfield.

    An astute passer and fine dribbler, "Ciri" represents all the traits one associates with a classy Argentine midfielder. 

     

    Guido Pizarro

    Club: Tigres

    Age: 23

    The ex-Lanus midfield engine would have transferred to Fiorentina a year ago if not for a passport issue, and the Viola's loss is Tigres' gain, for now at least

    Pizarro is athletic and skillful, and perfectly fits the mold of a European-style box-to-box midfielder. 

    He has a powerful shot from distance but can also shield the defense, play neat passes and drive his side forward with the ball at his feet, making him an influential, and highly valuable, footballer.

     

    Erik Lamela

    Club: Roma

    Age: 21

    The fact that Lamela is already breaking into the Albiceleste's star-studded midfield shows that the Roma young gun has a massive future ahead of him.

    In his most recent outing for Argentina against Italy, Lamela covered admirably for the absent Lionel Messi, creating chances for teammates with that elusive touch of brilliance that few players possess.

    While the other footballers on this list have the potential to become superstars, the former River man is already halfway there.

    Playing as an "enganche" (playmaker) or left-sided midfielder, he possesses an impressive array of talents when it comes to all attacking aspects of the game.

    He can dribble, he can pass, he can shoot and he has bountiful confidence in his own ability; all signs of a champion player.

     

    Ricardo Centurion

    Club: Racing 

    Age: 20

    In terms of explosive impact, few young players in Argentina, or even world football, can match Ricky Centurion. 

    The left winger is fond of the kinds of tricks you might see Cristiano Ronaldo or Ronaldinho trying, and he does them all at breakneck speed. 

    When he gathers the ball on the flank and decides to make a run at the byline, you can be sure something exciting is about to happen.

    Though still raw and inexperienced, this kid from Racing Club could become the next Angel Di Maria once his game is refined.

Attack

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    Facundo Ferreyra

    Club: Shakhtar Donetsk

    Age: 22

    In his relatively short career, "Chucky" has proven himself to be one of those strikers who is always threatening and, most importantly, always scoring goals.

    He was one of the few shining lights at a poor Banfield side, showing maturity beyond his years to lead the line and scrap for chances despite poor service from midfield.

    After transferring to a much better organized outfit, Velez, Ferreyra could finally unleash his attacking potential, netting 17 times in 24 outings for the club.

    As his European adventure gets underway with Shakhtar Donetsk, be assured there will be plenty more goals to come from this predatory No. 9.

     

    Luciano Vietto

    Club: Racing

    Age: 19

    Fast, mobile and adept with both feet, this polyfunctional forward can play as a false nine, second striker or in just about any other role across the front line.

    Capable of intelligent runs and possessing delightful ball skills, the nimble Vietto can also poach goals from inside the box or bang them in from distance.

    He is a menace to opposing defenders and he is only going to get better. 

     

    Lucas Ocampos

    Club: Monaco

    Age: 19

    It was somewhat of a surprise when Ocampos moved from River Plate to recently relegated Monaco, as several top European teams were chasing his signature, but the teenager was obviously convinced that the principality club would be the best place to encourage his growth as a player.

    When Ocampos emerged in 2011 at River, what impressed most was his physicality for someone so young.

    Incredible speed and power combined with a willingness to cruise up and down the left touch line for 90 minutes meant he instantly became a first-team regular in his debut season.

    Add in his bag of tricks and venomous shooting ability, and Ocampos was soon being compared to Cristiano Ronaldo, the player he admits to modelling his game on.