Not many players can break into their club’s first-team at the age of 17. While breaking into the first-team is an achievement in itself, getting a good amount of gametime for it is very unique. It is a unique occurrence- something not everyone can do at a tender age. But Efrain Alvarez is one player who is proving this logic wrong.
The LA Galaxy youngster was under the wing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic when the Swede was at the club till the end of the previous season. And the former Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain had high praise for Alvarez and his abilities on the pitch.
The 38-year-old told reporters during the season (via MLSSoccer): “He’s by far the biggest talent from everybody [in MLS]. Because he thinks of football. He has that football in him, and it’s natural. It didn’t come by him training or something. [Anyone can] have the training, the physical [work] and all those things that you put together [to become a better player], but you cannot have that football in you. He has it.”
When someone like Zlatan praises a player, he probably has something about him that sets him apart. More than anything, it could easily be the Zlatan-like winning mentality that sets Alvarez apart.
This past season, Alvarez made 20 appearances in all competitions for LA Galaxy. As much as that is rare in today’s game, the 17-year-old made four starts in MLS. In the Leagues Cup for the side, Alvarez started and played all of the 90 minutes in it. Even in the US Open Cup, he started both of the club’s games in the competition. In all competitions, the versatile winger scored three goals and got four assists as well.
In the season of 2018, Alvarez was only in the LA Galaxy II side and playing regularly for them in the attacking midfield position. Playing in the USL in 2018, the then 16-year-old got 12 goals and three assists while playing only 17 games in total.
The impressive showings with the second side were a reason for him mixing with the big boys this past season.
His performance for the Mexico Under-17s side towards the end of last year stood out too. Alvarez was a key member for the side in the FIFA Under-17s World Cup in Brazil. In the competition, he was a regular attacking midfielder for the team. He played seven games, bagging an impressive tally of four goals and a couple of assists.
He was key to taking his team to the final of the competition when they took a 2-1 loss to the home side and Alvarez was taken off in the 57th minute.
For the Los Angeles-based side, Alvarez’s stats were promising for a teenager like himself. He was completing 0.9 key passes per game, completing 0.5 dribbles per game as well. He had a good passing percentage of 80 percent too. And these numbers will only increase, as time goes by.
The foundations are certainly there by Alvarez to shine. With Ibrahimovic gone, he could get a runout in the striker position and with Javier Hernandez close to a move to Galaxy, Alvarez would love that too. He would be playing beside one of the icons of the modern-day Mexican game.