New FC Barcelona coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino is looking to strengthen his squad during the winter transfer period, and one name that keeps popping up is 20-year-old Colombian defender Eder Alvarez Balanta from Argentine club River Plate.
Barcelona’s center of defense has been hit with a string of injuries –Mascherano and Puyol– leaving them thin. The problem, however, is finding a center-back that fits the Barca mold.
Spanish publication SPORT is reporting Barcelona’s interest in Alvarez Balanta, “The Colombian center-back that plays for River Plate is, without a doubt, one of the greatest prospects in world soccer and Barcelona is following him closely.”
“The 20-year-old Balanta is one of the biggest prospects in his country and South American soccer. He is starting to sound like a potential target for many of the big European clubs, including Barcelona. Some of his strong points are his speed and his ability to anticipate plays. The defender has played in practically every one of River Plate’s games and one thing is for sure, his future is European soccer,” they added.
The biggest cons for the Spanish giants signing Eder Alvarez Balanta are his limited experience –he only has 19 games with the first-team– and the reported 50 million euro price tag set by River Plate’s President Daniel Pasarella.
Former River Plate star and current Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has praised the youngster.
“He looks good. He’s quite young, but from what I have seen he has a lot of quality. He comes out of back well. When you see a 20-year-old stand out at a club like River Plate shows that he has a strong character,” Mascherano told Marca.
Eder Alvarez Balanta on Barcelona’s interest
Eder Alvarez Balata, born in Bogota, Colombia, left for Argentina in 2011 and signed with River Plate’s youth squad. He made his senior debut on April 7, 2013 against Racing Club. Starting center-back Jonathan Botinelli was suspended for that match and the young Colombian was thrusted into a starting role; one he never let go. He has since become a pillar in the River Plate defense.
The defender, however, does not get carried away by the interest in him.
In an interview with SPORT Alvarez Balanta was asked what he thinks about Barcelona’s interest in him, he responded, “If [the interest] it’s true, it would be a great privilege, and I would thank God for people talking about me over there [Barcelona]. If it isn’t true I will just continue working, doing things correctly like I have been doing.”