Why is Julian Alvarez called 'Spider'? Explaining nickname for Argentina and Man City's World Cup star

Why is Julian Alvarez called 'Spider'? Explaining nickname for Argentina and Man City's World Cup star

If a forward playing in Manchester City’s first team can be termed a relative unknown, Julian Alvarez has made his abilities crystal clear during a sensational debut FIFA World Cup campaign with Argentina.

The 22-year-old was directly involved in five goals between the group stage and the final, netting four times to ensure only Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi had outscored him.

City can be accused of wild spending on occasion but the £14 million ($17.3m) they paid River Plate for Alvarez in January 2022 looks a bargain for the reigning Premier League champions.

But it is not just his on-pitch profile that has got people talking, but his character off it, too — and in particular, his arachnid-themed nickname. Here, we explain more.

MORE: Alavrez stars as Argentina blast past Croatia to make 2022 FIFA World Cup final

What is Julian Alvarez’s nickname?

When he was playing in older age groups as a youngster at Atletico Calchin in Argentina, Alvarez earned the nickname ‘The Little Spider’.

Alvarez has graduated to become simply ‘Spider’ as a senior pro, and the name has been in the spotlight again during his rise to greater prominence because of his performances for City and Argentina.

Why is Julian Alvarez called ‘Spider’?

One of the first topics Alvarez was asked to address following his move to City was his curious nickname. “I’ve been called ‘Spider’ since I was four or five years old,” he explained.

“Hardly anyone would call me Julian anymore, so it’s always felt very comfortable for people to call me ‘Spider’.”

Alvarez’s father went into more detail: “It was always complicated for people to steal the ball off him,” he said as part of a family interview with the current Premier League holders.

“He always looked like he had several legs. He was so small and he used to go crazy-fast and no-one could take the ball from him.”

Julian Alvarez goal celebration

Alvarez has been known to celebrate goals by spreading his arms and extending his thumb, forefinger and little finger to imitate Spiderman.

Alvarez was once asked if his decision to use the celebration after his first City goal was inspired by a similar pose struck by City all-time top scorer and Argentina icon Sergio Aguero during his playing days.

“In 2019, some friends suggested it when I was playing for River Plate,” said Alvarez. “It was generally down low, but then one time a teammate got me to do it above my head… but generally, when I score, I do it by my waist.”

Where does Julian Alvarez play?

While City signed Erling Haaland as an out-and-out striker, Alvarez can operate across the forward line. Manager Pep Guardiola has also deployed him in tandem with Haaland, operating slightly deeper as a No. 10.

Alvarez showed the ruthlessness with which he had impressed Guardiola in pre-season when the newcomer, who remained with River Plate until June 2022, scored 12 minutes after coming on in the 3-1 Community Shield defeat to Liverpool.

“Always, I try to give my best in training. I’ve shown I can play in different positions at my clubs and with the national team,” he said.

“I can offer alternatives to the team with this versatility. I can offer different solutions and I want to give my best to help the team.”

Alvarez has been used sparingly so far with City, but he scored twice in a 6-0 home rout of Nottingham Forest on a night when Haaland bagged a hat-trick, and netted again versus Fulham just before the World Cup break.

“It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t score goals, he always has a chance to score,” purred Guardiola. “In the training sessions, we see how clinical he is and how fast and clever he is in those moments.

“All the headlines are for Erling and I understand that because of his numbers – but I said in the pre-season in the States that this guy is really good. He can play wider with his vision from outside and he can increase our intensity.”