Real wanted to sign Julian Alvarez as an 11-year-old but FIFA rules stopped them

Real Madrid wanted to sign new Manchester City star Julian Alvarez as an 11-year-old but were stopped by a FIFA rule change.

The Argentine striker joined the Premier League champions from River Plate in January before spending the rest of the season back at his former club on loan. Having linked up with his new team-mates earlier this summer, Alvarez scored on his competitive City debut in last weekend's Community Shield defeat to Liverpool.

However, Alvarez could have moved to Europe more than a decade earlier had a change in FIFA transfer rules not prevented Real Madrid from signing him in 2011.

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Then a part of the youth set-up at Club Deportivo Atalaya, Alvarez was recommended to Los Blancos' sporting director during a visit to Argentina.

That is according to Atalaya chief executive and former Argentina youth scout Piero Foglia, who explained to The Athletic: “Ramon Martinez, the sporting director of Real Madrid, came to Argentina and said to me that if I had seen any young footballers who had stood out that I should tell him, so I told him about Julian.

“They invited us to a tournament in Girona, Spain. He played for the youth team and really stood out, so Madrid took note and wanted to sign him, but according to new FIFA rules that had just been brought in, he couldn’t sign at his age.

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"He had to be 16, and he was just 11. Can you imagine? He would have had to wait a long time; too long, in fact.”

FIFA had changed their rules in 2010 to prevent players moving clubs without their parents before the age of 16 and at the time it was not viable for Alvarez's family to relocate with him to Madrid. Such rules had not been in place when Lionel Messi swapped Newell's Old Boys for Barcelona in 2000 at the age of 13.

Having been denied a move to Spain, the Little Spider went on to join River Plate on the eve of his 16th birthday in January 2016. He is now set to form part of a formidable City frontline this season alongside fellow new signing Erling Haaland as Pep Guardiola's side go in search of their first Champions League triumph.

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