In a country that has produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Juan Roman Riquelme, Diego Maradona and countless other brilliant attacking talents, it is not easy to grab attention for your abilities at the other end of the pitch. Defenders are the odd men out in Argentina, and rarely given credit for their work either in the media or when big European clubs come knocking.
Tottenham's latest signing Juan Foyth, however, might just prove the exception to the rule. The 19-year-old signed a five-year deal with the club on Wednesday, following a frantic summer of speculation and even an abortive attempt by Paris Saint-Germain to hijack the deal as negotiations dragged on.
Foyth takes after his illustrious attacking compatriots in one sense. When it comes to taking on unsuspecting opponents the centre-back has all the confidence and (almost) the dribbling skill of Messi himself!
The La Plata native has become the hero of infinite Youtube clips in his short playing career so far — after making his debut for the Pincha in March 2017, he went on to start seven games as the club sealed a Copa Libertadores spot — for his daring forays out of the back. But Spurs fans should not fret that his compatriot Mauricio Pochettino is buying a younger version of the occasionally heart-stopping David Luiz.
Foyth's dribbles are merely a sign of a ball control and distribution that are already leagues ahead of most players in his position, marking him out as a real talent for the future.
He is also no slouch on the defensive side. In what may prove to be his last game as an Estudiantes player, Foyth put in a masterly 90 minutes on Thursday to keep Copa Sudamericana rivals Nacional de Potosi at bay as his team took a valuable 1-0 victory away from the first leg.
While the Bolivian club may not be household names in South America, they had the advantage of playing at near 4,000m altitude in their lofty home, a challenge for even the fittest players and notoriously taxing on youngsters unfamiliar with the conditions. What's more, Estudiantes lined up for the first time under new coach Gustavo Matosas after the fiery Nelson Vivas walked out at the end of an impressive 2016-17 season. Ironically for Spurs it was the former Arsenal man who placed his faith in Foyth, and he was more than repaid with a series of assured performances in the unforgiving climes of the Primera Division.
In the Argentina set-up, too, he has been singled out as one to watch. Foyth played in both the South American Championship and World Cup for Argentina's Under-20s in 2017, and was one of the few players to come out of a disastrous campaign in South Korea with any credit. Former U-20 coach Claudio Ubeda singled him out before that tournament began as unique in his maturity.
"Foyth's progress, to mention just one name, has been one of incredible growth," he told La Nacion. "Not just personally, but for the amount of games he has played in a team fighting for continental trophies with a much greater demand."
But if the youngster is unflappable when he steps onto the pitch, the same could be said of his conduct away from it. Grilled over Tottenham's interest at the start of last week, the defender was cool and non-committal, while there was never any doubt that he would make the sacrifice and step out for Estudiantes in Potosi when many kids in the same position would have refused to travel, keeping themselves safe for the big move across the Atlantic.
That calm served him well over the long months of rumours and counter-rumours that accompanied talks, which at one point looked close to collapse when club president Juan Sebastian Veron travelled to London and failed to strike a deal. Even when PSG were circling, he kept his cool and made a smart assessment — that with his compatriot Mauricio Pochettino on the bench and Spurs' youth-first philosophy, it was in England that his development would be best served.
"It's a club that bets on the young and I think I'm going to have a chance to play," Foyth said of Spurs to El Dia as the move neared.
"I also spoke with Mauricio Pochettino and I liked what he said. It was what helped me decide that Tottenham was the right place to continue my career."
Now he begins a new stage in his career, and while he will have to be patient again down the Spurs pecking order, Foyth's talent — not least when he is rounding markers with ease — makes him a fantastic future gamble for Pochettino and Spurs.