Manchester City were fortunate enough to have a member of their squad be part of Argentina’s World Cup-winning side.
Indeed, striker Julian Alvarez played a crucial role in helping his side go all the way and break a 36-year drought to bring the golden trophy home.
Alvarez was not really expected to play as big a role as he did in Qatar. He came off the bench in the first few games before manager Lionel Scaloni promoted him to start games over the more experienced Lautaro Martinez.
The 22-year-old was among the best strikers in the World Cup, scoring 4 goals – including crucial ones against Poland, Australia and a stunning brace in the semi-final against Croatia.
Alvarez was given an extended period of time off by City to celebrate his success but was professional enough to return back to the club before the turn of the year.
He made his return to the Cityzens’ training ground on Friday, just a few days before the New Year. Alvarez should be available for City’s games in the new year and is heading back to his club in highly impressive form.
That being said, he also faces stiff competition in Erling Haaland – who has already scored 20 goals in 14 Premier League games.
Because of their friendly competitiveness, one can’t blame some fans for believing that the two might share a tense relationship.
But that doesn’t to be the case at all, at least if you believe behind-the-scenes footage of how the City players celebrated the return of their World Cup winner.
On Friday, Alvarez received a lot of praise and congratulations from his teammates after returning to the club. Haaland made the effort to go to him when the team was having their meals and give him a warm hug.
But it wasn’t his hug, but how well he pronounced his name which has impressed fans. He tells him ‘Julian congrats my friend’ while giving him a hug.
In a time when many players and pundits inadvertently end up mispronouncing Latin names, Haaland getting his name spot on has earned him a lot of respect.
When it comes to the name ‘Julian’, the correct (Argentine) pronunciation for it is ‘Hoo-lee-uhn’. Haaland appears to have gotten that spot on, showing that he at least that he is respectful enough to learn about his teammates.
While Alvarez might be a direct rival for his position at City, there does not seem to be any hint of jealousy in Haaland.
He appears to be going on really well with his new teammate and is already a pretty popular figure in the dressing room.
The Norwegian forward has earned praise from Argentina fans for being correct with his pronunciation of Julian’s name and showering him with love upon his return from international duty.
The two might be great friends but are definitely going to cause a headache for manager Pep Guardiola.
The Spaniard probably has to pull another rabbit out of his tactical hat to find a way in utilizing them both perfectly and get the best out of him.
It remains to be seen if that involves them both playing in the frontline or Alvarez continuing to act as an impact substitute, but this headache is a pretty good one for the City manager – as he possesses two of the best young strikers in world football right now.
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