Southampton have successfully added their second signing of the January transfer window, as Argentinian midfielder Carlos Alcaraz joins Mislav Oršić in bolstering Nathan Jones’s squad for an important end to the 2022/23 season.
The 20-year-old arrives from his native side Racing Club, where he has risen through the youth system and established himself as one of the most exciting young prospects coming out of Argentina.
Affectionately nicknamed ‘Charly’ by those at ‘La Academia’, the young starlet departs his boyhood club to, in his own words, “follow my dream”.
He leaves his home country with a fitting goodbye to Racing Club supporters; Alcaraz popped up with an extra-time winner in the Trofeo de Campeones de la Liga Profesional
a national cup competition in Argentina
to overcome Boca Juniors with a 2-1 win and lift the first piece of silverware in his fledgling career.
It was the crowning moment of a rapid rise through the Racing ranks since he joined at 15 years old, but, off the pitch, it was also the culmination of years of determination for the youngster.
Born in La Plata, the capital city of Argentina's Buenos Aries province, Alcaraz started playing at the age of four with the aim of following in the footsteps of his father, who was also a professional footballer.
However, he owes a lot of his success to his mother, Amelia, despite her initial preference of raising a child with more musical interests, plucking the strings on the guitar rather than pulling the strings of a midfield.
Alcaraz has spoken from the heart about his mother’s influence in the past, showing immense gratitude for his humble beginnings:
“My old lady gave me everything, she has gotten up many times to make me breakfast and for me to go by train to training. She was always with me.”
With the backing of his family, Alcaraz signed for Racing’s academy after starring in a match against them; despite suffering defeat, 'Charly' scored his local side’s only goal and caught the eyes of Alejandro Russo, Racing's youth team coordinator.
With his foot in the door at one of Argentina’s historical 'big five' clubs, Alcaraz continued to impress and made his professional debut just two years later at the age of 17, in a 1-1 draw vs Atlético Tucumán in January 2020.
He became Racing’s youngest goalscorer in the 21st century that year with a last-minute winner in a 4-3 victory against Aldovisi, just two months after his debut.
With eight senior appearances that campaign, the following season truly saw him mark his place in the side.
During a tumultuous time at Racing, the arrival of Fernando Gago at the helm in 2021 proved a pivotal moment for the club, and for Alcaraz’s blossoming career.
With a manager who graced Real Madrid’s side from 2007-2012 and won several titles at Boca Juniors as a central midfielder, Alcaraz was given a chance to shine with 33 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals and registering three assists.
The then 19-year-old became a vital part of an upturn in fortunes for Racing, which saw his stock rise even higher in the 2022 campaign.
Thriving as an energetic, box-to-box midfielder, with a turn of pace and a willingness to drive forward with the ball, Alcaraz honed his natural eye for goal and went on to score nine times and add another assist in 42 games.
Accumulating 83 senior appearances in total, he helped Racing to a second-place finish in the Primera División as well as providing that decisive moment in their dramatic cup victory.
For a youngster with the world seemingly at his feet, Alcaraz has already expressed his willingness to prove himself once more as he arrives on the south coast, just as he did with great impact at Racing.
With results and points the vital requirements for Southampton, the addition of a lively, attack-minded midfielder could prove to be a key component as attentions turn to the business end of the Premier League season.