Star In The Making – The One To Watch At Southampton This Season
After less than a year at Southampton, Carlos Alcaraz is destined to go to the top with his aggression, tenacity and flair. He could have it all!
At just 20, this midfielder is already showing the qualities of a top player. With a game-winning goal against Leicester City and impressive performances against Arsenal and Liverpool under his belt, he has shown that he belongs in the upper echelon of the footballing pyramid.
Hailing from Argentina, Alcaraz was signed by Racing Club in 2017 as a 15-year-old. The same club that has produced talents such as Lautaro Martinez, Marcos Acuna and Rodrigo De Paul. In 2020, at just 18, he made his professional debut in a draw against Atletico Tucuman.
The attacking midfielder would go on to make 38 appearances, scoring four times. One of those goals was the winner in the Argentine Cup Final against Boca Juniors, a goal which would spark a huge brawl between the sides, resulting in 10 red cards with Alcaraz included.
He then made his move to relegation-threatened Southampton in January 2023 where he has gone on to show world-class potential. Despite the inevitable happening, Alcaraz was one of the shining lights at Saint Mary’s.
It was very apparent from the beginning that the Saints had a great player on their hands. Nothing gets the fans’ attention like when you sign a South American wonderkid that only Football Manager and FIFA Career Mode players know about.
All jokes aside, the first glimpse of top-level quality he showed was his adaptability. Despite his age, Alcaraz looked like he’d been in the Premier League a very long time, a quality that is hard to find amongst even the top teams. He settled in almost immediately and offered something different to what Southampton already had.
Another asset he possesses is versatility. Even though he is predominately right-footed, Alcaraz has no issue using his left. This is shown not only in his shot-taking but also in his dribbling. Since coming to England, he has also been utilised in six different positions for Southampton, playing as a wide midfielder, a central midfielder and as a striker.
Finally, his mental game. Similar to his adaptability, his mentality on and off the field is remarkable.
Being young and moving to a new country is never easy and can be an undeniably overwhelming task, but it would be fair to say that he has dealt with this brilliantly. From his opening training session with the club, he has been a popular member of the squad.
From the offset, it was evident that he had a stereotypical South American aura about him, almost a nastiness. The Premier League has been blessed with players like this for decades now with some recent examples being Erik Lamela, Lisandro Martinez and Cristian Romero.
Players like this are intelligent and have a real desire to win. They might come across as aggressive and antagonistic but they are simply masters of the dark arts of the sport.
A prime example of this with Alcaraz is his performance in Southampton’s 3-3 draw against Arsenal last season. Within 30 minutes, he’d scored, assisted a goal and been booked for a cynical foul, the South American way.
Even though it has only been two games, he is definitely one to watch in the Championship this season. With impressive performances against Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich City, it’s clear that having an attacking coach like Russell Martin will only improve him as a player.
Against Wednesday, his match rating was an eight and he created the most chances in the game with three. He played 73 minutes of the game, finishing with an impressive 93% pass completion rate but just had one attempt at goal.
Defensively, Alcaraz is also underrated. Despite being an attacker, his work rate is unmatched. During this game, he made four clearances and four recoveries. Not a bad start to life in the Championship.
His performance against Norwich really complimented all of his previously mentioned attributes. Defending, attacking, it had it all.
For a second game running, he received an eight rating for his performance. This time around, he managed to create only two chances but mustered nine shots with five being outside the box. In his defensive duties, he had a 100% tackle success rate and recovered the ball three times. A brilliant all-round performance.
It’s clear that the potential ceiling for Alcaraz couldn’t be any higher. If he keeps up this level of performance, there is no reason why he can’t contribute to bringing the Saints back up to the Premier League.
For a player to be so young but so mature is a rarity these days and to go through so much in a short period of time too. Having already faced the mental challenge of relegation, the Argentine is definitely a player to keep hold of and if Saints can do so, build their team around.
Prediction (All Comps): Goals: 10 Assists: 15
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