Argentina, who lost to Germany at the Brazil 2014 World Cup final, has an outstanding figure amongst their ranks. A captain among players, a lion, a footballer who has played for the best and biggest, passing through River Plate, Corinthians, West Ham United, Liverpool and Barcelona. Javier Mascherano has been Argentina's number 5 since 2003, excelling as the years have gone by. Nicknamed the little chief, he is a defensive midfielder who defends every ball as if it were the last. He is now 30 and the "albiceleste" will need to be looking for someone to step into his shoes soon.

Javier Mascherano
Matias Kranevitter is a 21 year-old defensive midfielder born in San Miguel de Tucuman in the north of Argentina. His family is from an area that clearly shows the unbalance of prosperity with disturbing poverty and is one of 6 siblings. He found his first job at the age of 12 becoming a caddy at the local golf course. Difficult and traumatic beginnings are common traits for the Argentine footballer. These roots, that are very different from immaculate European footballing academies, help up-bring committed players that give everything to succeed.

Kranevitter has played 40 matches for River Plate's first team after leaving San Miguel de Tucuman's youth ranks at the age of 14. He wears Mascherano's number 5 shirt at River Plate and has been impressing for the past 2 Argentine championships. He has also played for Argentina's Under 20's. He pulls the strings in the midfield and is an impassable wall at times, a balance between defence and attack. A great opponent play-breaker who quickly sets up his teammates in attack, Kranevitter is the next central midfielder to come from a long line of great number 5's from River Plate: Rossi, Merlo, Astrada, Almeyda, Mascherano.

Matías Kranevitter
Kranveitter had been recently called up to the Argentine National squad by Gerardo Martino (Argentina's head coach) for 2 friendlies against Brazil and Hong Kong on a tour of South-East Asia during October. Ponzio, Kranevitter's teammate and fighting him for a spot in River's team said about the redhead in an interview with Diario Ole (in Spanish): "He's the best number 5 in the country, he has an enormous future. He was made at River, he always wants to learn and in training he is all sacrifice and will". Ponzio, an experienced midfielder who has played for Newell's Old Boys, Zaragoza on 2 occasions and River Plate, also said: "Krane and I know that one may play one week and the other the next. We always talk, he's respectful and intelligent".

Unfortunately, while playing against Independiente in September, Kranevitter sustained an injury, a fracture to the 5th metatarsal bone of his right foot, that will keep him on the sidelines for at least 3 months. He will miss the Argentina matches and most of what is left of the Argentine National championship which River Plate is currently leading after playing 11 matches. River Plate's team and fans alike will be anxiously waiting for his recovery and return, and hopefully he will have a few more seasons in Argentina to demonstrate how much he is actually worth. Juan Pablo Varsky, a respected and renowned Argentine journalist said of Kranevitter: "He is the most important project of Argentine football. He is already good".

Due to the fact that most Argentine teams are debt-ridden, players like Matias Kranevitter usually do not have long careers in South America and are swiftly and cheaply recruited by European teams. Top clubs will be coming for the Tucuman-born player and regardless of the accessible price-tag, he has everything needed to become one of the best and even may become the next Mascherano, fill his boots as Argentina's new number 5 and who knows, he may even take the "albiceleste" that extra step in the next World Cup.

Article contributed by: James Hillyard

Twitter: @gasometre

Blog: Sportisms