Five for 2025: The young stars that could become the Scaloneta’s next generation

With several key players reaching 30, Lionel Scaloni may have to think about who his new stars could be after this year’s Copa América

As Argentina’s men’s national football team prepares to defend the Copa América title, there are questions about the team’s future. Ángel Di María’s decision to retire from the Albiceleste after 2024 and doubts over Messi’s chances of making it into the 2026 World Cup have left fans and pundits alike wondering what’s next for coach Lionel Scaloni’s squad. 

However, the next generation of Argentine footballing talents has already started to make waves in and around the national team’s sphere. With Manchester United star Alejandro Garnacho already firmly entrenched as a Scaloneta member, who are the young stars that could help him fill the gaps left by Messi and friends?

Valentín Carboni

Coming in to literally replace Di María in the friendly Argentina played against Costa Rica in March, at just 19 years old, Valentín Carboni is a player that Scaloni highly rates.

 “We have high hopes for [Carboni and Garnacho],” said Scaloni ahead of the Copa América. “A lot of faith in the future with them.”

Carboni came through the Lanús youth academy and signed with the small Italian side Catania in 2020, before getting picked up by giants Inter Milan for its youth team. A left-footed attacking midfielder, he possesses dazzling dribbling skills, pace, and technique while also being able to create chances. He spent the 2023-24 season on loan at Monza in the Italian top tier, finishing the season with two goals and four assists in 31 games.

Matías Soulé

Another left-footed forward who had a big season on loan in Italy, Matías Soulé has yet to grace the pitch for the senior national team, but the wait shouldn’t be much longer. A key player for Albiceleste youth teams since U-16, he’s been with Italian giant Juventus since 2020. 

Unlike Carboni, Soulé is more of a goal scorer — as he showed in his last season when he broke through on loan at Frosinone. His 11 goals and 3 assists in 36 games amount to a third of the goal contributions for the Italian minnow, which didn’t escape relegation regardless.

Claudio Echeverri

The only player on the list still playing in the Argentine Primera División, Claudio Echeverri is the latest jewel from a River Plate academy that has seen the likes of Pablo Aimar, Hernán Crespo, and Gonzalo Higuaín. However, he won’t stay in the country much longer, having agreed to a deal with Manchester City for 2025.

Able to play across the attacking front but also drop deeper and create chances, Echeverri has become a key man in River’s team under Martín Demichelis despite being only 18 years old. His capacity to hold the ball, drag defenders out of position and control the tempo of the game could make him a key cog for Scaloni in years to come.

Alan Varela

Dropping deeper into midfield, Argentina could have a problem on its hands come 2026. Rodrigo de Paul, Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso, and Guido Rodríguez will be on the “wrong” side of 30 when the next World Cup rolls around. However, 21-year-old Alan Varela is a player who could fit neatly with Enzo Fernández and Alexis MacAllister for a perfect three-man midfield. 

The former Boca prospect is a talented mixed midfielder, as he showed in a brilliant debut campaign with Portuguese giants Porto FC. He’s able to read play, intercept passes, and recover the ball while also having the technique to bring the ball out of the defense and join the attack.

Facundo Medina

The left side of defense is perhaps Argentina’s most vulnerable position for the future. Left-backs Marcos Acuña and Nicolás Tagliafico will be at the tail end of their careers in 2026, while left-sided center-back Nicolás Otamendi will be pushing 38 if still playing.

That’s why Scaloni may soon need to give more opportunities to Facundo Medina. The 25-year-old’s stock has been rising since joining French side Lens from Talleres in 2020, but play time with the Albiceleste has been hard to come by so far. However, his composure on the ball and ability to play from the back screams Scaloneta, even if his rash nature — he’s the Ligue 1 leader for yellow cards in 2023-24 — may feel too much alongside another aggressive defender like Cristian Romero.


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