The 2024 campaign will be an intriguing one for current Argentine champions in their second season under Martín Demichelis' management.
Although the manager of the team last season won the title, Demichelis wasn't without his critics, especially after not living up to the expectations to deliver in the Copa Libertadores.
River Plate have sold a few important players for the upcoming season, and they will have to meet the needs that have emerged in the squad.
Therefore, to fill the gaps, River is set to make some signings during the winter transfer window, having already started with the signing of 25-year-old defensive midfielder Nicolás Fonseca. However, Fonseca was only the first name to arrive at Monumental de Núñez - and he won't the last.
The club seems to be far from done looking at names available for business and have been linked to some great young South-American talents that have what it takes to quickly have a positive impact on Demichelis’ River Plate.
Nathalia Tavares is on duty to look at those possibly coming into the club, as well as youth players who can prosper in 2024.
Argentinos Jrs: Federico Redondo
Son of the legendary Fernando Redondo, Federico decided to follow his father’s footsteps as a defensive midfielder and has been excellent so far.
He joined Argentinos Juniors’ academy at the age of 10 and progressed through the academy rankings before he debuted for the first team in 2022 . Since then, has become a key player for the club.
Redondo is a truly clever player in possession and much is due to his spatial awareness, which allows him to spend a lot of time with the ball on his feet. This awareness is also important when it comes to his decision-making, which is rarely wrong.
Redondo thinks and acts fast on the ball or when he receives it. Off the ball, his intelligence is also remarkable. His constant scanning helps him know exactly where the opposition players are, where they want to play the ball, what the next move will be and how much space is around him.
Although the rumours of Redondo going to River were stronger before the transfer window opened, it’s clear why Los Millionarios were linked to the player, especially with the departures of De La Cruz and Enzo Pérez.
At a River Plate side that likes to control the ball and plays offensive football, Redondo’s abilities and skills would make him a top candidate to orchestrate Demichelis’ midfield: helping in the attack build-up and providing defensive cover.
Penarol: Matías Arezo
River are reportedly looking to sign a striker and Matías Arezo is on their radar.
Arezo was signed by Spanish club Granada in January 2022, but after a year of not having much game time, he returned to South America to play for Peñarol in his home country. For Lo Decano, he played 40 games, scoring 22 goals and assisting his teammates on four occasions.
Arezo has a sort of stocky build which allows him to withstand his marker whilst on the ball. This also helps him hold the ball or run with the ball when the ball is played to him, which is a key attribute in his game as he operates mostly inside the box and in the penalty area.
Beyond the attacking box, Arezo has a great sense of positioning to receive the ball and try to progress the play, especially with attempting dribbles.
However, the Uruguayan still lacks a bit of reading in his decision-making when it comes to progressive runs, which is an aspect where he has all the tools to develop in the near future.
Luckily, River have some good options when it comes to progressing with the ball and showing more of a creative side - two important things in a team that plays offensive football. For this reason, Matías Arezo would be a great addition as a solid goalscorer.
Sebastián Boselli is another one of the several exciting prospects in a very special generation of Uruguayan footballers who went on to win the U20 World Cup in 2023.
A highly talented defender that can play either as a central defender or as a right back, Boselli’s strongest attributes are his athleticism and physicality.
His reading of the game also catches the eye. His great defensive positioning and anticipation are key to his high success rate in duels and interceptions.
The defender is also very comfortable on the ball being a reliable player to help the team build from the back, which suits Demichelis' River Plate well.
Having only played two games for Los Millionarios since his arrival last August, Boselli will feel like a new signing for the club for 2024. Boselli has the talent to consolidate as a regular starter in the new season while he refines his game in a league of higher reputation.
On the other hand, River has one of the best academies on the continent and in the world, having been responsible for developing Premier League stars Enzo Fernández and Julián Álvarez in recent years.
Therefore Demichelis has the opportunity to strengthen his squad looking within the club itself and the expectations are that he does so. In regard to this, three names from the academy have especially stood out in the past months and are expected to become part of the first team in 2024.
Ian Subiabre only arrived at River Plate last July. After a year and a half on loan, River decided to make the move permanent and, since then, the youngster has settled at Los Millionarios U20 team.
Subiabre is a winger that’s comfortable playing on both sides of the pitch.
The 17-year-old likes to stay wide and stretch defences, creating space for him and his teammates to exploit.
Subiabre loves to be involved on the ball and does so with his dribbling and ability to combine well with his fellow players. His pace and ability to change directions are attributes that stand out in his game.
Still at the start of his professional development, Subiabre has room to improve his physicality and endurance, which will happen with more involvement in the first team.
His off ball work is an aspect that will also develop under Demichelis, especially as the manager likes to play with high lines: Ian will have to be able to track back and cover for his teammates constantly.
Subiabre is a very young player who has a long way to go in his development. However, the fact that he’s settled so well at River and has been standing out for both club and country are good signs for what’s to come in his career.
The striker River Plate is looking for could be under their nose and that striker is Agustín Ruberto. Nearly 18 years old, Ruberto has a strong skill set for a striker his age, but it’s clear that he needs to refine some aspects of his game.
Standing at 185cm, Agustín is tall and has an excellent body mass ratio, which helps a lot with his athleticism and physicality. He has a killer instinct and this is because he is good both on and off the ball, having a great sense of positioning, timing and reaction, especially inside the box.
However, he is far from a static striker. The Argentinian moves deeper into midfield in order to draw defenders and create space for his teammates to progress with the play.
When the ball gets to him, Ruberto knows how to look after it and is determined to keep the ball. What he does best with the ball is shooting and has accurate finishing skills with both feet to excel at it. Other than that, he presents an aerial threat in the opposition box.
All in all, it’s about polishing his skills and getting him ready to play regularly for the first team. The fact that Ruberto traveled with Demichelis’ squad for pre-season shows how rated he is by the manager. It wouldn’t be surprising Agustín made the first team at the start of the season.
Echeverri plays as an attacking midfielder or winger. His nickname, El Diablito (The Little Devil), is not without reason: the young player has excellent dribbling and 1v1 ability, not having much problem passing by his marker.
His quick feet are also a stand-out attribute in this way, helping him escape a high number of tackles with his quick change of direction and composure on the ball.
El Diablito combines all that to great vision and passing ability which makes him an excellent advanced playmaker.
He is very clever in his off-the-ball movements, getting himself into positions in which he can receive the ball and explore his agility and mobility and help the play progress.
It will be important for Echeverri, on the other hand, to improve his physicality, which tends to happen naturally once a young player is integrated to the first team.
Taking a further step in his physical development would help him be more comfortable in contact situations and also gain some advantage on aerial duels.
With River Plate losing De La Cruz, one of their main creative forces in the past few years, El Diablito could step up to meet this need this season.
Demichelis gave Echeverri his full first team debut last December in the Argentinian Champions Trophy, and he showed what he’s got and what he can bring to Los Millionarios in 2024 before he leaves for Manchester City at the end of the year.
Young talent to lead the way
River Plate not only has top talent coming through their youth ranks but they appear to be looking for the right names in the market to make their side even more competitive.
Although the squad is in the midst of a renewal, with important players such as Enzo Pérez and Nicolás De La Cruz having departed the club, most departures are actually of players who no longer fit into River’s squad.
A tightened squad better built to the needs and demands of the manager should serve them well - which is why the expectations for River Plate's season are pretty high and so are the projections for the future beyond 2024.
Los Millionarios are under solid management with Demichelis who is set to have an even better platform to continue implementing his playing style and philosophy, while also competing for titles in both national and continental competitions.