Scout - Eder Alvarez Balanta
Sky Sports Scout is where we scour the globe looking for the best talent. Next up is Eder Alvarez Balanta.
By Sky Sports Scout - Tweet me: @skysportscout
Last Updated: 21/05/14 12:09pm
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The latest player to be spotlighted is River Plate's Eder Alvarez Balanta.
The scout reports...
Eder Alvarez Balanta made his senior debut less than 12 months ago, but he is already being spoken of as a winter target for European giants Barcelona.
We check on the Colombian making a name for himself in Argentina.
Balanta was born and raised in the Colombian capital Bogota, and he began his footballing journey with Academia - now Llaneros - helping them to a series of youth titles.
His progress caught the eye of a number of scouts, and River Plate invited him for trials in early 2011 when he had just turned 18.
He did well and was snapped up by River and played a big part in their Under-20 Copa Libertadores success in 2012, and his performances saw him promoted to the senior squad.
In March 2013, he made his debut - starting against Racing Club and he helped River keep a clean-sheet as they won 2-0. From that day he has been an ever-present in Ramon Diaz's side.
After just a handful of games for River, he was reported to have been the subject of a bid from Inter Milan - but River rejected this, instead offering him a professional deal.
Balanta signed a three-year deal in July this year, but because he was still on a youth deal River did stop him participating in the Under-20 World Cup with his native Colombia.
Indeed despite his rise to prominence, Balanta is yet to represent Colombia at any level - although he has confirmed he would not think about representing Argentina, after it was claimed they were looking into naturalising him.
One thing that is clear, is that it is very easy to see why Argentina, Barcelona and the like would all love to have Balanta playing for them - River have unearthed a real gem.
Almost un-South American like, Balanta is a ball playing centre-half who oozes class.
Left-footed, Balanta's reading of the game is first-class - and the fact he stands just below 6ft does not interfere in his game, as he does have a tremendous leap if needed.
Balanta is also hugely powerful, and you would expect him to be robust with it. But that is not the case - he rarely dives into a tackle, instead allowing his outstanding pace to get him out of trouble.
His passing is very good, as he loves to bring the ball out of defence and find a team-mate - although perhaps too often he looks for the long cross-field ball.
But finding a fault with Balanta is not easy and many think he could very well push himself into Colombia's World Cup team, let alone squad, before next summer's finals in Brazil.
In light of Barca's reported interest, River have placed a £12million price-tag on his head and many in Argentina think he could be bound for Europe as early as January - astonishingly less than 12 months after his River debut.
The scout says...
Balanta really does look like the real deal, and one who would really settle well into European football - therefore it is no surprise that Europe's biggest clubs are looking at him.
Balanta has come from nowhere but by the World Cup next summer, he could be one of the players to watch in Brazil.
The Scout rating...
Shooting: 5 out of 10
Passing: 7 out of 10
Tackling: 8 out of 10
Heading: 7 out of 10
Pace: 8 out of 10
Vision: 7 out of 10
Current ability: 7 out of 10
Potential ability: 10 out of 10
OVERALL SCOUT RATING:59/80
Current value: £10million
Potential value: £30million
You have read our opinion of Balanta - now we want your views. Have you seen Balanta in action? Do you agree with our assessment? Do you think he will make it?
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