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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
The next Maradona
Javier Saviola
Saviola has been touted as the next Maradona
BBC Sport's Nigel Adderley unearths the latest batch of Argentine footballing talent.

Juan Sebastian Veron is the latest product off the Argentine production line of world-class players but there are several heirs to his throne.

Most notably the current golden boy of Argentine football in the form of Javier Saviola.

The 19-year-old striker helped the Under-20 national team to lift the World Youth Championship in his home country.

And he will be on show in Europe soon. Saviola has just moved from Buenos Aires-based River Plate to Barcelona for 18m.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter awards Javier Saviola the U-20 World Cup golden boot
Saviola gets the U-20 World Cup golden boot

His goal in his home city against Ghana ensures he'll continue to be saddled with the tag of being 'The New Maradona' for a bit longer.

His 11 goals during the championships saw him named the player of the tournament just like the great man was following Argentina's first youth title in 1979.

And he's also decided to start his career outside South America at the Nou Camp.

"I only hope my success here will make life easier for me when I go to Barcelona," is Saviola's humble analysis of his performances.

"My parents are coming to Spain with me to help me settle in but I know that hard work is the only way I can impress one of the biggest clubs in the world."

It's likely Saviola won't be the only one to move for big money.

The team's playmaker Andres D'Alessandro was in sublime form during the Ghana match.

And even though River Plate have already lost one jewel, the parlous state of Argentine league football means they'll find it hard to turn a realistic offer down.

Sunderland moved smartly to bring U-20 captain Julio Arca into the Premiership last season and central defender Nicolas Medina revealed to BBC Sport Online he'll be arriving at the Stadium of Light on 23 July.

"I love the English style of football and with Arca's support I hope to adapt very quickly," said Medina.

Argentine legend Diego Maradona
Argentine legend Diego Maradona

"I've heard that the rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle is bigger than River Plate versus Boca Juniors here in Buenos Aires!"

The big question is how many of this precocious squad can graduate to the senior team.

Jose Peckerman has little doubt. He has been the youth coach for the last three championships and has turned down the opportunity to manage the national side on numerous occasions to develop his country's young talent.

"If my players perform to that level next season the door to the national team will open for them very quickly.

"But it's impossible to say at the moment if any will make it into the squad for the World Cup next summer."

The quality of Veron, Ortega and Batistuta probably means they may have to wait.

But if you are planning a long-term flutter on the winners in 2006, a few quid on Saviola and company might be a wise investment.

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11 Jul 01 |  Football
Argentina confirm Copa pull-out
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