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River Plate’s star

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Signing a player for any club is always presented as a big achievement. However, extending a contract does not attract as many eyeballs unless the player involved is among the top ones at the club. However, if you’re 16 and in the limelight for having extended your contract, then you can surely be called one of the best young talents in football, and this is what Franco Mastantuono actually is.

In fact, despite making his appearances for the senior team this season, the teenager has found his place on the transfer wishlist of several top European clubs. After Argentina’s World Cup win in Qatar, there has been an increased interest in players from the league.

There is Independiente star Santiago Hidalgo, who is compared to Antoine Griezmann. Meanwhile, others like Maximo Perrone and Matias Soule have already earned themselves a move across the Atlantic. And sooner or later, Franco Mastantuono will join the bandwagon.

So, who is Franco Mastantuono, and how good is he?

Who is Franco Mastantuono

Born in Azul, 300 kilometres south of Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, Mastantuono’s journey in sports began when he was just three. However, when he was young, his aspiration was to make his name in another field: tennis. In fact, the first few years of his youth career were spent deciding which sport was better for him to take up full-time.

Even as late as 2017, this dilemma was affecting the youngsters. He was playing for the local club River Azul when he was spotted by River Plate scouts, who praised him and prompted the club to offer him a membership. He, however, opted to reject the offer to focus on tennis.

Two years later, though, he had made up his mind. If his career had to go forward, it was in football. River Plate was more than happy to get their target, albeit two years late.

Mastantuono had now decided on his sports, which allowed him to blossom quickly into one of the best players in the youth system. For the next four years, he progressed through various age groups.

However, his big break only came in 2024, and this was largely due to English champions Manchester City. Despite Mastantuono being extremely talented, another young sensation, Claudio Echeverri, blocked his path to the first team.

That all changed in the winter transfer window of 2024 when Echeverri was signed by Manchester City, leaving Mastantuono with a clear path to the first team.

Franco Mastantuono stats

At just 16 years of age, Mastantuono was called into the senior team for the pre-season. He impressed manager Martín Demichelis so much that he was integrated straight into the playing 11 in River Plate’s opening game in the new season, making him the third-youngest starter in the club’s history.

In fact, he has featured in nine of the eleven games that clubs have played so far. A stat analysis of these games shows us one thing clearly: Mastantuono loves to move the ball forward. Mastantuono has been used as a substitute for most of these games but still has managed to post good stats.

Mastantuono scored his maiden goal in the Copa Argentina against Club Atletico Excursionistas. In the league game against Independiente Rivadavia, he only played 18 minutes but still managed to complete an impressive ten carries, three of which were progressive.

In other games like those against Club Atlético Banfield and Tucuman, he made more than 20 carries despite playing 57 and 45 minutes, respectively.

Franco Mastantuono’s style of play and positioning

Since he has made a lot of substitute appearances, his heatmap is very scattered. However, even then, we can see he loves to drift inside into the left channel form, where he usually tries to move the ball forward either by passing or carrying it.

Mastantuono loves to take a high-risk, high-reward approach. He is also suited to a high-pressing system such as Jurgen Klopp’s Gegenpressing. Stats from Sofaccore, which show that he makes 0.9 tackles per game and receives the ball 1.3 times. He also wins 3.1 duels, 2.8 of which come on the ground.

His approach also causes him to lose the ball 7.3 times per game, which is an area he needs to improve upon. His stats are only good enough, but when we see from the lens that he is a 16-year-old that has been thrown into the deep end, you start to realise how high his ceiling must be.

Franco Mastantuono Heatmap River Plate

Franco Mastantuono potential 

Franco Mastantuono’s contract extension became one of the most followed news not only in his native Argentina but also in Europe, which is a testament to how highly talented he is. Furthermore, his contract extension also adds a release clause of €45 million, which could rise to €50 million. This is reported to be the highest release clause for any player in the league.

With clubs like Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid, and Manchester United already chasing his signature, not much needs to be said about his potential. Whether he can be the next star to emerge from the shores of the world champions remains to be seen, but the starting signs are more than promising.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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