Mascherano praise for River's Balanta
Javier Mascherano has talked up reported Barcelona target Eder Alvarez Balanta, while the young River Plate defender himself says he likes the idea of being the first Colombian player in the Catalan club’s history.
Balanta, 20, has impressed observers in Argentina with his composed displays at centre-back for River, and reports in the Catalan press have claimed that Barca’s new Argentine coach Gerardo Martino is a fan.
Mascherano, who himself played two seasons at River early in his career, told Marca that he likes what he has seen of the Colombian.
"He looks very good, is very young, but from what I have seen he has a lot of quality, is good bringing the ball out from the back,” the Argentine utility-man said. “When you see a youngster standing out from the rest, at just 20 and at a club like River, it shows he does not have just any personality."
Cash strapped River have reportedly slapped a 50 million euros price-tag on their latest defensive starlet, while Marca say that third-party investors are likely to be involved in any decision to sell.
The player himself told Sport that he was only aware of any Barca interest through the media, but would jump at the chance to move to the La Liga champions.
“If this turns out to be true, it would be a big privilege for me, and I would give thanks to God,” Balanta said. “But if not I will keep doing my stuff here as I have been doing. As far as I know no Colombian has ever played for Barcelona, so I would be the first in history. Imagine that!”
Balanta, who has made just 19 senior appearances so far in his career, said he was nonetheless in no hurry to move on from River.
“I am taking everything very calmly,” he said. “I am young and I am learning, building my path. I have played few games in Primera and must keep along this path, doing things well, with effort, sacrifice, the same as all my teammates.”