Facundo Farias: Why Man Utd & Ronaldo have taken a shine to Argentina's latest gem

Facundo Farias Colon Boca Juniors 2022Getty

Just a short while ago, there was significant concern in Argentina that once the golden generation of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and their peers had hung up their boots, the Albiceleste would struggle to replace them.

The panic was probably unnecessary, of course, given the nation's reputation as one of the world's great talent production lines.

Indeed, even if you ignore the likes of Lautaro Martinez, Leandro Paredes and Rodrigo De Paul – all of whom are only 27 and presently starring in Europe – there are suddenly plenty more reasons for optimism going into Qatar and beyond.

In the last 18 months alone, River Plate have seen Manchester City-bound Julian Alvarez and Enzo Fernandez develop into first-rate prospects, while over at Boca Juniors Alan Varela is winning rave reviews as a dynamic presence in the centre of the Xeneize midfield, and Racing Club's 19-year-old star Carlos Alcaraz has played a big part in his side's fantastic 2022 season under ex-Real Madrid ace Fernando Gago.

Then, away from Buenos Aires, in Messi and Di Maria's home province of Santa Fe, one finds perhaps the hottest prospect of all.

Facundo Farias' name is on many people's lips right now, product of his virtuoso performances for Colon over the past two seasons.

Farias, 19, began the year in the middle of a vicious tug of war for his services between Boca and River, with both giants desperate to clinch his signature.

The versatile forward, who can play down the middle, on either wing or in a withdrawn playmaking position, had caught the eye with a string of fantastic performances the previous term.

Farias PS

He formed a lethal partnership with veteran icon Luis 'El Pulga' Rodriguez in Santa Fe and contributed five goals and seven assists as Colon lifted their first-ever national trophy in the 2021 Copa Liga Profesional, sparking wild celebrations in their home city.

That constant transfer speculation, though, seemed to distract Farias from the job at hand, and he watched a large part of the current season from the bench after losing favour with coach Julio Cesar Falcioni.

An injury to Rodriguez then allowed him to return to the starting line-up and the teenager has taken full advantage, standing out in particular with a sensational Copa Libertadores volley to put his side on the way to a crucial victory over Cerro Porteno.

That recent upturn in form will likely rekindle the previous interest from Argentina's Superclasico rivals. But this time, Boca and River will face fierce competition for the youngster.

Brazil legend Ronaldo is one of those watching Farias' development closely.

Cruzeiro, who were bought out by O Fenomeno at the start of the year and have made a solid start to their bid to win promotion from Serie B, were reportedly offered his services with the promise, according to Bolavip, that “he's great on the ball".

Fellow Brazilian heavyweights and reigning Libertadores champions Palmeiras are also in the chasing pack, a group that also includes such luminaries as Manchester United, Liverpool Roma, Porto and Paris Saint-Germain, who apparently received a glowing review from Lionel Messi's father and agent Jorge when they asked about the youngster's quality.

Such a blockbuster transfer would be no less than richly deserved for Farias, who has suffered no little heartbreak during his short life.

At the age of 13, he lost his mother to cancer and during the pandemic the star's father passed away from complications arising from Covid-19 and liver cirrhosis, leaving him to care for his 12-year-old sister alone.

Farias thus turned to his long-time agent with a surprising proposition: to adopt him and become his legal guardian.

“One afternoon we were drinking mate in the lobby of a hotel and he suddenly turned to me and said, 'Hey, mate, do you want to be my new dad?'” Martin Sendoa recalled to TN upon signing the adoption papers at the end of 2021.

“It took me by surprise a bit, but he was convinced. 'Do you want to be my legal guardian?', he asked, and I was really moved, I even started to cry.

"It was a beautiful moment. We hugged each other and I of course said yes.”

“I came up from the bottom, from the mud, I will never forget that in my life,” Farias himself stated in an interview with El Litoral. “It's the bad, ugly memories that make you strong. I always say those are the ones that keep you grounded.

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“I lost my mother, my grandfather and I think I became stronger for it. Every time I was down, I thought of them to keep moving forward. I am living my dream, but also their dream for me.”

The next stage of that dream now appears just around the corner. Be it with one of Boca or River or a giant in Brazil or even across the Atlantic Ocean, despite his tender age Farias is ready to take the next step and continue his flourishing career.

The future looks bright for the Colon gem, and for Argentine football as a whole if he can realise his undoubted potential in the years to come.