Manchester City has signed Argentina international Julian Alvarez from River Plate on a five-and-a-half-year deal, the Premier League champion said on Monday.

The 22-year-old forward will remain at the Buenos Aires side on loan until July, 2022.

Argentine newspaper Ole reported that City will pay River $26 million dollars (19 million pounds) for Alvarez, making him the club's most expensive sale since Javier Saviola moved to Barcelona in 2001.

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"Julian is a player we have monitored for some time," City director of football Txiki Begiristain said.

"He is capable of operating in a number of attacking roles, and we firmly believe he's one of the best young attacking players in South America."

Alvarez scored 18 goals to help River Plate win the Argentine league title in November. He made his international debut last year and was a member of the Argentina squad that won the Copa America.

Premier League leader City sold Spain striker Ferran Torres to Barcelona in January.