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Valentin Barco: Why Man City and Liverpool are targeting the teenage Boca Juniors left-back who moonlights as an attacking playmaker

Manchester City pulled off one of the steals of the 21st century when they signed Julian Alvarez in January 2022. The striker was only just making a name for himself in Argentina when City struck a deal with River Plate for just £14 million ($17m), and 18 months later he had lifted every trophy imaginable, a World Cup winner with the Albiceleste and a crucial part of City's treble-winning team.

While Brazil has become a highly-competitive hunting ground for European clubs searching for young talent in the last few years, Argentina continues to be overlooked in comparison, meaning teams can get real value for money. And nearly two years after unearthing Alvarez, City are one of several clubs casting their eye over the next superstar to come out of Argentina.

Valentin Barco, 19, has emerged as one of the top players for Boca Juniors and, like Alvarez, has built his reputation in the Copa Libertadores, South America's answer to the Champions League. Barco helped the Xeneize reach the 2023 final, where they were narrowly beaten in extra-time by Fluminense at the Maracana, but is being tipped for far bigger things in the future.

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In his first full year in the Buenos Aires' giants first team, the teenager has stood out in a side of veterans including Edinson Cavani, Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero. He broke into the team as a marauding left-back but soon evolved into an attacking playmaker, showing versatility that will stand him in good stead when he eventually takes the next logical step and heads to Europe...