Meet the ‘Lionel Messi regen’ who scored hat-trick vs Brazil and idolises icon

Despite being bested by Germany in a thrilling 3-3 draw that required spot-kicks in the U17 World Cup, Argentina’s newest crop of talent put on a display worthy of recognition.

At the forefront of this side was Claudio Echeverri: captain, playmaker, and gospel of the church of Lionel Messi. This starlet played his way onto the tongues of anyone watching the competition, and though he won't lift the trophy, you’d think he has a silverware-filled future on the horizon.

Born in Resistencia, north-eastern Argentina, the youngster has been with famed outfit River Plate since the age of 11 and has piqued the interest of clubs like Manchester City, Roma and AC Milan as a result of his World Cup performances.

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Amongst these brilliant outings was a hat-trick that knocked out none other than Brazil, Argentina’s great South American rivals, and added to his eventual five-goal-tally in Indonesia.

His U17 and River Plate team-mate Agustín Ruberto, who saw Echeverri’s five goals and said 'I raise you eight,’ has also set the tournament alight – that River Plate sure can produce talent!

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Echeverri first caught the eye of European clubs during a 2017 seven-a-side tournament in Venice, impressing against Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Ajax, whilst also notching four against Juventus.

This tournament trampolined Echeverri into the spotlight, and this World Cup gave him a further push. He’d only made his club debut for River in October 2022, where he scored for their reserve side, earning him his first pro contract.

Nicknamed El Diablito, the little devil, his rather fiendish dribbling is a standout, and reminiscent of the great Argentinian he idolises.

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While most young Argentinians don’t have to look very far to find their idol, not many of them can say they’re on the path to emulating him. Echeverri even stated prior to the U17 World Cup that he would one day like to play for Messi’s former side, Barcelona, having gained an affinity for the team whilst his idol played for them.

The resemblance when Echeverri is on the ball is uncanny, and though he’s proficient with his right, not left, like Messi, scouts and fans alike can't help but see that low centre of gravity and dictating style of play and put two and two together

He’s made a few first-team appearances for River Plate and has even sparked protests due to the fact he’s not a regular starter. You'd imagine Echeverri might just get a few more minutes now.

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