Franco Mastantuono: River Plate’s Next Top Talent

Just as quickly as Claudio Echeverri got snatched up by Manchester City, River Plate have already managed to replace him with another teenage wonder from their talent factory of an academy. His name: Franco Mastantuono.


The mercurial midfielder has taken playing first-team football in his stride, at a club as big as River Plate that’s not an easy task, let alone at just 16 years of age. However, after impressing in preseason, Mastantuono has featured in all but one league game for River this year, even making a brief but impressive appearance in the Superclásico against fierce rivals Boca Juniors.


In February of this year, Mastantuono broke the record of youngest-ever River Plate goal scorer in a 3-0 victory over Excursionistas in the Copa Argentina. In doing so, he took the title off of Javier Saviola who held the record for more than 25 years.



As a child, Mastantuono had aspirations of becoming a tennis star, ranking within the top ten Argentinians at youth level, and at eight years old he even rejected an offer to play for River after a successful trial as he preferred to concentrate on his tennis. In 2019, he got a second opportunity to sign for River’s academy, and this time, he took it.


The attacking-minded player has excelled in every age group since joining River Plate, rising up the ranks at a meteoric rate, even on the international scene he has featured for age groups way above his own, making his U-17s debut at just 14 years old and training with the U-20s at just 15 years old.


Dazzling dribbling, pinpoint passing and brilliant ball-striking ability are his top three standout features, scoring some amazing goals at youth level, whether he was slaloming through defenders and tucking the ball away, or scoring freekicks that his idol Lionel Messi would be proud of, he has always stood out from the rest of his teammates.


He has best described himself as a player who loves to have the ball at his feet and beat a man one-on-one, to play quickly with one or two touches and shoot from outside the box. Although he hasn’t managed an assist for River’s first team yet, it’s not through his own lack of creativity, as he created 4 scoring chances for his teammates, completed 8 dribbles in the opponent’s half and accumulated a passing accuracy of 82% in his first 7 games.


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If you love football then you will love watching Mastantuono play, he doesn’t yet guarantee goals or assists but his ability to effortlessly glide past defenders and pick out a perfect pass is a joy to admire. After just two months of first-team football the sharks of Europe have caught the smell of his talent with Barcelona being said to have a major interest in bringing him to Camp Nou, however, they would have to pay his €30m release clause, which is the joint largest for any player at River Plate.


With less than ten professional league appearances to his name, it would be extremely unfair to coin him as Argentina’s next big thing. However, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny that he could go to the very top of the footballing world if he carries on impressing.


By: Albert Hilton / @alberthltn

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Marcelo Endelli / Getty Images