He's played with Lionel Messi, studied Luis Suarez, and is the only Argentinian scorer of a hat-trick in Bundesliga history - but what else is there to know about Bayer Leverkusen's Lucas Alario? bundesliga.com reveals all...
1) A provincial boy in the big city
Lucas Nicolas Alario was born on 8 October 1992 in the small city of Tostado and in 2010 he made the 200-mile move to Santa Fe to join Atletico Colon. After four years in the provincial capital, he headed to Buenos Aires, the country's capital, to sign for record Argentine champions River Plate.
2) Strong scoring record
Alario has always had an eye for goal. In 105 league appearances for Colon and River Plate, the rangy striker found the back of the net 34 times as well as providing 13 assists. Considering how not all of those appearances were as a starter, and that he made his Colon breakthrough in a side battling relegation, and those numbers start to look even more impressive. Since joining Leverkusen in September, he has registered 25 goals and nine assists in 70 competitive outings (38 starts).
3) Scoring almost everywhere
Other than the UEFA Champions League - albeit 113 minutes worth - the forward has scored in every competition he has competed in to date. Twenty-eight goals in the Argentine top flight and six in the second tier have come alongside strikes in the Copa Libertadores (eight), Copa Sudamericana (one), Recopa Sudamericana (one), FIFA Club World Cup (1), as well as one for the senior Argentina squad in a 6-0 friendly win against Singapore. He's since added the Bundesliga (19), DFB Cup (two) and UEFA Europa League (four) to that list during his time in Germany.
Watch: Relive Lucas Alario's long-awaited Bundesliga debut
4) Former Nuremberg teammate
Alario played with an old Bundesliga favourite at River Plate: Javier Pinola, who spent a decade with Nuremberg and even captained Der Club. The left-back returned to his homeland in 2015 with Rosario Central before joining Alario at Los Millonarios. Alario will certainly have sought out Pinola for his advice before committing to Bayer.
5) The Argentine Drogba
Confident on both his left and right foot and a handful in the air, Alario's style of play has drawn comparisons with Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba. Deceptively quick, he has also played out wide as part of a front three for Leverkusen.
6) Debut with Messi
In 2016, Alario made his debut for Argentina in a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay, a game in which Messi scored the only goal. Following the match, then Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza sang the youngster’s praises, claiming that "Alario is a player with a great future ahead of him. It’s good for him to keep experiencing being a part of the Argentina squad." He scored his first international goal under Bauza's successor, Jorge Sampaoli, against Singapore in June 2017, and could add to his four caps when the Albiceleste face Germany in a friendly in October.
7) Straight into the action
Alario needed little time to bed into his new surroundings following his move to River Plate in 2015 and quickly became a fan favourite with the Buenos Aires club after scoring two important goals. He netted the equaliser in the Copa Libertadores semi-final second leg against Guarani to put his side into the final before opening the scoring in the final against Tigres as River ran out 3-0 winners to claim their third continental title. He followed suit at Leverkusen, chipping in with a debut goal and assist against Hamburg in September 2017.
8) Historic hat-trick
Alario ended his maiden Bundesliga season with nine goals in 23 appearances. He matches that tally in 2018/19, but only after bringing up a hat-trick on the final day of the campaign in a 5-1 rout of Hertha Berlin as Leverkusen secured a Champions League berth. He is the only Argentinian in Bundesliga history to score three times in a single game.
Watch: Enjoy highlights of Lucas Alario's first Bundesliga hat-trick
9) Suarez the role model
It's not often you get to come up against your idol on the pitch, but Alario got that chance in the 2015 Club World Cup final. Barcelona's Suarez was River Plate's tormenter that day with two goals in a 3-0 victory, and Alario has since explained he has watched Suarez closely to learn from him. "After that final in Japan, I watch every Barcelona game to learn from Suarez and follow his movements," Alario told Clarin.
10) Messi's right-hand man in waiting?
It's no secret that Suarez's Barcelona teammate, Messi, is Argentina's golden boy, but the debate around who should partner one of the world's greatest ever players in attack at international level will not go away. Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala? What about Alario? That's who former Argentina striker and coach Cesar Luis Menotti would plump for, anyway. "Lucas Alario is the second best player we've got after Messi," he once said of the Leverkusen striker.
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