Watch: Julian Alvarez scores six in a game to show Erling Haaland he will have competition at Man City

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River Plate's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring their fifth goal. Julian Alvarez became the first player in River Plate history to score six goals in an official match and the second to do so in Copa Libertadores history in his team's 8-1 win over Alianza Lima - REUTERS
River Plate's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring their fifth goal. Julian Alvarez became the first player in River Plate history to score six goals in an official match and the second to do so in Copa Libertadores history in his team's 8-1 win over Alianza Lima - REUTERS

Erling Haaland may be in England this week to put the finishing touches to his £51million transfer to Manchester City but, 7,000 miles away in Buenos Aires, another forward was busy offering a tantalising glimpse of what he plans to bring to the Premier League champions.

Julian Alvarez scored six goals for River Plate in an 8-1 thrashing of Peruvian side Alianza Lima in their final group game of the Copa Libertadores at the Monumental Stadium on Wednesday ahead of a planned move to City this summer.

His impressive showing included a hat-trick in either half and made him the first player in River Plate’s illustrious history to score six goals in a game and the first in the Copa Libertadores - the South American equivalent of the Champions League - for 37 years.

City struck a £14m deal with River Plate in January for Alvarez before agreeing to loan him back but the 22-year-old Argentina forward is due to join up with Pep Guardiola’s squad ahead of the start of the new Premier League season in August.

River Plate are hoping to have Alvarez available for both legs of their round-of-16 tie, which the return leg scheduled to take place between July 5 and July 7 after a first leg at the end of next month, but the Argentine club’s requests to keep the player until later in the year have so far fallen on deaf ears.

The final of the Copa Libertadores is due to take place in Ecuador on October 29 and River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo would like to retain Alvarez until then to boost his side’s chances of winning the competition.

'Guardiola won’t listen to me- we would be grateful to have Julian until the end of the year'

But Guardiola wants Alvarez in his squad for next season, especially with doubts over the futures of several of his current forwards, and Gallardo seemed to accept he was fighting a losing battle to hold on to his young star for a little longer yet despite another plea in the wake of the demolition of Alianza.

“It is difficult for Julian to stay because there is a team that made a great investment, Manchester City takes a diamond in the rough,” Gallardo said.

“We are countries that export soccer players. Many soccer players have left us in this time and we have tried to survive all those games. Replacing Julian is not going to be easy. We are not going to find a Julian to take his place.

“We have to be aware that it is very possible that he will play the Round of 16 of the Cup and that he will then go to his new destination, it is so. What happens does not depend on me or what we can do.

“If they want to loan us the player until the end of the year, we have no problem and we will be very grateful. We tell them that we are going to prepare a footballer who is already clearly mature to make the jump but we could give him even more flight.

“But Guardiola won’t listen to my request. We would be very grateful if you can leave us Julian until the end of the year!”

Haaland - who has been in Manchester since Tuesday as City prepare to formally announce the prolific Norway striker’s signing from Borussia Dortmund - will doubtless command the most attention but Alvarez may offer Guardiola another option, especially as he is likely to lose one or two of his current forwards.

Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus is expected to leave, with Arsenal and Tottenham among those interested, and there are also serious doubts over the future of England forward Raheem Sterling, who is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract. Riyad Mahrez also has just a year left on his deal.

Alvarez remains raw and, having never played in Europe, let alone England, the transition to the Premier League and Guardiola’s style of play may not be straight forward. Ferran Soriano, the City chief executive, has already said Haaland will need time to adapt to Guardiola’s demands so the same may be doubly or triply so for Alvarez.

But his creative and goalscoring talents are causing excitement in Argentina and his latest star turn may do similar in Manchester, with the goals showcasing a variety of talents: predatory instincts, an ability to shoot from distance and press, quick feet, pace, sharp movement, tidy dribbling and bags of composure.

His first was a low, controlled finish into the far corner running away from goal after a penetrative angled run into the penalty area and his second a poacher’s finish from the edge of the six-yard box when he slid in to steer home a cross. Alvarez brought up his hat-trick shortly before half-time when he turned and buried a 25-yard shot into the bottom corner.

His fourth will have impressed Guardiola, Alvarez showing pace and quick thinking to seize on a heavy touch from the goalkeeper from a back pass to intercept and finish.

Alvarez’s fifth followed three minutes later, blindsiding his defender to latch on to a lovely inswinging cross from the left and lift a delicate finish over the goalkeeper and in off the far post. Goal No 6 arrived in the 83rd minute when Alvarez burst into the penalty area with the ball, showing neat control and a cool head to shimmy his way past a defender and then fire into the corner.