MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Julián Álvarez, regarded as one of the hottest prospects in South American football, signed for Manchester City from River Plate on Monday in a transfer that the Argentine champion said marks the start of a close relationship between the two clubs.

City has reportedly paid 14.1 million pounds ($19 million) for the 22-year-old Álvarez, who has played five times for Argentina and helped River win the domestic title last year when he scored 26 goals in all competitions for club and country.

Álvarez, who is predominantly a center forward but someone who City believes can play in a variety of attacking positions, will remain at River on loan until at least July.

“For us it is a pride that one of the most important clubs in the world has been interested in a player like Julián Álvarez,” River said.

“It is a milestone,” the club added, “that marks the beginning of the link between River Plate and Manchester City, which we hope will bear much fruit for both clubs.”

The signing of a striker from Argentina will not be lost on City fans, who said farewell to another — Sergio Aguero — at the end of last season after 10 trophy-filled years at the club. Aguero joined Barcelona and has since been forced to retire because of heart problems.

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Álvarez still has much to prove but he was a key player at River and part of the Argentina squad that won the Copa América in Brazil last year.

“We firmly believe that he is one of the best young strikers in South America,” City director of football Txiki Begiristain said. “I am very happy that we have been able to bring him to Manchester City.

“I really believe that we will be able to provide him with the necessary conditions for him to reach his greatest potential and become one of the best players in the world.”

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