Álvarez with Internazionale in 2011
|Full name||Ricardo Gabriel Álvarez|
|Date of birth||12 April 1988|
|Place of birth||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
|2014–2015||→ Sunderland (loan)||13||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17:37, 2 December 2016 (UTC).
Ricardo Gabriel "Ricky" Álvarez (Spanish pronunciation: [ riˈkarðo ɣaˈβɾjel ˈalβaɾes]; born 12 April 1988) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Italian club Sampdoria.
He began his club career in Argentina in 2008 with Vélez Sársfield; his performances earned him a move to Italian club Internazionale in 2011, where he remained until 2015, aside from a loan spell with English side Sunderland during the 2014–15 season. He joined Sampdoria in 2016. At international level, Álvarez was a member of the Argentine squad that reached the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final.
Álvarez played his first professional game with Vélez Sársfield in 2008. Following his debut, he suffered a knee cruciate ligament injury that stalled his progression on the first team. He then was part of the 2009 Clausura winning squad, playing only 18 minutes in the 1–0 victory over Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy.
The midfielder's breakthrough with the team finally came during the 2010 Clausura, in which Vélez, forced by the tight fixture of the Copa Libertadores, played mostly with substitutes. He scored his first goal in a 1–2 defeat to River Plate at the Estadio Monumental and received his first red card from referee Javier Collado in Vélez' 1–3 defeat to Racing, for complaining about a yellow card. He totalled 11 matches during the tournament (4 as a starter), and 1 goal.
Álvarez then played 15 games (2 starts) during Vélez' runner-up 2010 Apertura campaign. He also scored his second professional goal in his team's 1–0 home victory over Lanús for the 14th fixture.
During the first semester of 2011, Álvarez got significant fan and media praise for his league and Copa Libertadores' games. He also showed versatility by playing all the positions of the midfield. During that semester, he helped his team win the 2011 Clausura and reach the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores.
On 5 July 2011, Álvarez joined Italian club Inter for a €12.8 million fee, for 90% of his transfer rights. He debuted officially for his club in the 2011 Supercoppa Italiana defeat to Milan. Under the coaching of Claudio Ranieri, Álvarez began to establish himself in the team and showed that he can play as a trequartista. His first official goal for Inter came against Trabzonspor on November 22, 2011 after a neat one-two with international teammate Diego Milito. He scored again in his side's 4–1 victory over Lecce, a tap in from a well worked cross by Yuto Nagatomo.
He scored his first goal for Inter in 2013 against Catania in a 3–2 comeback win. He scored two more on 7 April against Atalanta, although Inter lost that match 3–4 in the San Siro. Ten days later in a Coppa Italia match at San Siro, he scored again against Roma, but Inter lost 2–3 in an eventual 5–3 aggregate loss. On 5 May, Álvarez scored from a penalty kick against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo but his team lost 3–1. Álvarez scored his 10th goal for Inter three days later against Lazio and missed a penalty kick, as Inter lost 1–3.
Sunderland signed Álvarez on September deadline day 2014. Álvarez initially signed on loan with a view to a permanent switch if Sunderland avoided relegation. Álvarez made his Premier League debut on 13 September 2014, playing 65 minutes in a 2–2 draw against Tottenham. He scored his first goal on 3 February 2015 in a 3–1 win against Fulham in an FA Cup fourth-round replay.
Sunderland avoided relegation and triggered the conditional obligation to buy Álvarez outright for €10.5 million. However, the club did not wish to buy Álvarez. FIFA are due to deliver a decision on 10 December 2016. Nevertheless, neither club included Álvarez in their squad, making Álvarez a de facto free agent.
In the last days of December 2015, he was linked with a move to Italian side Sampdoria which was finally concluded on 4 January of the following year, with Álvarez signing a contract until 30 June 2016. He was also given number 25 shirt for the second part of 2015–16 season.
On 18 August 2011, Álvarez was called up to Argentina's senior squad. He made his debut on 2 September 2011 against Venezuela in a friendly. Four days later, Álvarez played in another friendly, this time against Nigeria. He made another appearance in the 2014 World Cup qualification match against Bolivia.
|1.||7 June 2014||Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina||Slovenia||1–0||2–0||Friendly|
A left-footed and technically gifted playmaker, Álvarez is usually deployed as an attacking midfielder, due to his ability to both score and create goals. He has been praised for his work-rate and tactical versatility, and is capable of playing anywhere in midfield, as well as in several offensive positions; he has also been deployed as a second striker, as a central midfielder, or as a right winger, a position which allows him to cut inside and shoot on goal with his stronger left foot. Nicknamed Ricky Maravilla, he was regarded as a talented and promising prospect in his youth, and his elegant playing style, height and physique initially drew comparisons with Kaká and Javier Pastore, although he has stated that his main inspirations as a footballer were Zinedine Zidane and Riquelme. His main attributes are his powerful striking ability from distance, dribbling skills, and creativity, although he has also drawn criticism for his lack of pace and inconsistent performances. In recent seasons, his playing time has also been limited due to several injuries.
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