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Angel Correa: Argentina's next big hope?

Name: Angel Correa Age: 18 Club: San Lorenzo Position: Attacking Midfield Nationality: Argentine Since a glorious few years from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, during which Argentina produced a number of sensational footballing talents, the production line from the South American nation has dried up somewhat -- at least in terms of elite-level players. There has been talent developed, but the country's youth sides have not continued to enjoy the same level of excellent results, while the likes of Diego Buonanotte, Pablo Piatti and Alejandro Gomez are among those to have failed to step up from teenage hope to senior star. Erik Lamela or Mauro Icardi, perhaps, can still make that step up and help to fill the talent gap that has formed below the excellent 1988 generation of Angel di Maria, Ever Banega and Sergio Aguero. Neither Lamela or Icardi, though, are currently in the first team of their respective club sides. While a few years of lesser production is by no means a disaster, with Argentina's current leading stars only in their mid-20s, the next strong batch of prospects needs to come soon if the nation's current strength is to be maintained. Last year, we saw the 1993 generation flop at the South American Under-20 championship which the country hosted. Now, then, we must look to those born in 1995 for next year's competition and, fortunately for the Albiceleste, they have a youngster with real promise to look to in San Lorenzo's Angel Correa. The diminutive forward comes with a sizeable reputation and, per the Mirror's Ed Malyon, is already on the radar of Premier League giants Manchester City as they look to find the "next Aguero." His gift and skill are obvious, while it is no mean feat to survive physically in the rough and tumble world of the Argentine top flight. Indeed, Correa's tenacity and workrate are noteworthy. Scouts, though, are understandably wary of a league that lacks quality in its prime and, as such, the likes of Ezequiel Cirigliano, Ricardo Centurion and Gino Peruzzi have all departed to sides outside of the established European elite over the past year. They are still required to prove themselves worthy at a "stepping stone" club before anyone is willing to part with significant money for their services. With Correa, though, there is a feeling that he is a very special player. Physically, he is not dissimilar to Aguero, standing at just 5-foot-9 tall and with a fairly small physical frame. Like the City forward, he is also naturally right-footed and shows great fleet of foot to beat opponents in one-on-one battles. He may, at times, not use his low centre of gravity as well as he perhaps could, but he should grow stronger with age and better training regimes. Indeed, his lack of stamina and strength remain his biggest weaknesses at the present time. His agility and turning speed, though, make him a difficult proposition for opposition defenders to handle, while he has proven that his long-range shooting ability is a relative strength. In tight areas, his footwork can be mesmeric. Were he to come to Europe, though, it is difficult to see him being used as a central forward in the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 setups that most clubs employ. Correa is a good crosser of the ball and his speed would also see him well suited to a wide forward berth, which is no doubt where any initial strides abroad would be taken. Long term, though, his talent should be utilised in central areas, with his eye for a pass and decision making potentially good enough to be the focal point of an attacking unit. For San Lorenzo, he has predominantly be used as a second striker. Born in Rosario and raised a childhood fan of both local side Central and, individually, Juan Roman Riquelme, Correa has already achieved much in making himself a regular in the San Lorenzo first team with such haste. Even before his first-team debut, he had a four-year contract to his name and expectations were high within the club he joined at the age of 12. His blistering start to his senior career, though, cannot have been expected. His successful initial forays have only served to raise anticipation. He played an important role in San Lorenzo winning the Argentine Torneo Inicial late last year, while in the Copa Libertadores he now has a stage on which to take his talents to a wider audience. If San Lorenzo are to go far in the competition, he will be expected to make a major contribution.

Arsenal, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid target Angel Correa scored a cracking goal for San Lorenzo vs River yesterday:

— Daniel Colasimone (@ArgentinaFW) January 30, 2014
Manchester City are known to be looking in Argentina for potential talent, with midfielder Bruno Zuculini set to arrive in the North-West of England this summer. The link with Correa, meanwhile, has been persistent enough that it too should carry some weight. As the tweet above shows, though, competition for his services will be fierce and, indeed, Diego Simeone-managed Atletico Madrid are believed to be the biggest threat to City's efforts at present. Correa, at present, is not ready for the pressure of moving straight into the first team of an elite European side and, given his tough upbringing, would need to be given plenty of time and help in adapting. A club with a strong and stable South American core, then, would be an obvious choice. Adapting to life away from home has slowed the careers of many a talent to a halt and it would be a shame to see it happen to a player of Correa's ability, but he will need special attention given both his age and background -- with both his father and brother having passed away just a few years ago. Economics dictate that he will be forced to move young, though, and it would appear that he will almost certainly do so this summer. Where he will end up, however, remains a mystery for the time being. For further discussion on any of the players featured in The Scout’s Notebook, Christopher can be found on Twitter @chris_elastico. More of his work profiling rising talents can be found at