Copa América 2011: The Ones To Watch (For Dummies)Posted: July 5, 2011
I’ll be honest with you all – I am possibly the worst person to ask when it comes to international competitions, especially one like Copa América which will receive as much coverage as Master’s Football, if not less, in Britain. So this is why I have put together my Copa América Basics Guide for those who want to know who to look out for this Summer.
Full Name – Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior
Age – 19
Position – Forward
Club – Santos
Country – Brazil
If you are involved in football and haven’t heard Neymar mentioned once, where the hell have you been?
For the last few transfer windows he has been linked with a host of European teams from Chelsea to Barcelona with a £45 million price tag being slapped on him despite being still in his teens and not being tried and tested outside of the Brazilian league or national team.
Neymar is the latest Brazilian to take the football world by storm following in the footsteps of the likes of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. In the 3 years he has been part of the Santos first team he has scored 66 goals in 132 games in all competitions, which is generally unheard of for someone under the age of 20. His goal scoring form is also much of the same for the international set up with 3 goals in 5 appearances for Brazil including 2 against Scotland in a recent friendly at the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal.
2. Alexis Sánchez
Full Name – Alexis Alejandro Sánchez Sánchez
Age – 22
Position – Winger/Forward
Club – Udinese (Although is expected to sign for FC Barcelona after Copa América)
Country – Chile
Like Neymar, Alexis Sánchez is another hot prospect in world football and is also being targeted by all of the big clubs in Europe, with the biggest of them all at the moment, La Liga and European champions FC Barcelona, expected to win his signiture for a reported €36 million as soon as Copa América concludes.
After a steady couple of seasons at Udinese, Sanchez’s performances improved dramatically under a new manager and playing in a new position which got the best out of Sánchez. He improved so much that he became the first Chilean to be voted the best player in Italy.
3. Radamel Falcao
Full Name – Radamel Falcao García Zárate
Age – 25
Position – Forward
Club – FC Porto
Country – Colombia
Radamel Falcao is coming into this competition on the back of a very successful season for him and his team, FC Porto, who are the current Portuguese League, Portuguese Cup and Europa League champions after a treble winning season under the management under the recently appointed Chelsea coach, André Villas-Boas.
As well as the season being a success in terms of trophies won, Falcao had an equally great in front of goal, scoring 39 goals in 42 games in all competitions for Porto, 17 of those goals being scored in Porto’s Europa League run, which passed Jürgen Klinsmann’s record of 15 goals.
4. Luis Suárez
Full Name – Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz
Age – 24
Position – Forward
Club – Liverpool FC
Country – Uruguay
After moving to Liverpool in January, momentarily becoming Liverpool’s record signing for £22.8 million, Luis Suárez made an instant impact to the team, improving the attacking third and giving Liverpool an extra dimension going forward, staying in correlation with the improvement the whole team had made under the management of Kop idol Kenny Dalglish.
In the 13 games Suárez has scored 4 goals and has provided many assists and has generally been at the heart of all Liverpool attacks. His most notably game in a red shirt so far was against Liverpool’s North West rivals, Manchester United at Anfield where he assisted 2 of Dirk Kuyt’s hat trick and his cross making Nani head the ball back towards his own goal which led to Kuyt making it 2-0.
If Suárez can replicate the form he shown at the 2010 World Cup for Uruguay, then he should be a dangerous player for most teams during this tournament.
5. Javier Pastore
Full Name – Javier Matías Pastore
Age – 22
Position – Central Attacking Midfielder
Club – Palermo
Country – Argentina
Even before his £5 million move to Palermo, Javier Pastore was linked with a host of top European sides such as Chelsea, Manchester United, and AC Milan which indicates that this player has potential and quality in abundance.
At first, he was used as a super substitute under former Palermo head coach Walter Zenga but when he was replaced by Delio Rossi, Pastore began to make his mark in the starting line up. Throughout his time at Palermo, fans and pundits have both praised Pastore’s performances on the pitch and he was named 2010 Serie A Young Player of the Year.
Pastore is said to be in high demand this transfer window, with the Palermo chairman, Maurizio Zamparini, suggesting that they have rejected a bid around the €50 million mark from an unnamed club.
Lucas Barrios – Paraguay
Barrios was a main factor behind Dortmund’s title winning season with 19 goals in the Bundesliga and will be a key player for Paraguay.
Giovani dos Santos – Mexico
The ex-Barcelona forward/winger may not be setting White Hart Lane alight but at 22 years of age he is the most senior player in the Mexico national team with 45 caps. Hopefully he can use this stage to show what he is capable of as he has an abundance of potential and can still become a great player.
Lucas Leiva – Brazil
The Brazilian midfielder has come a very long way since he was the scape goat of Anfield a few seasons ago. He has been a constant fixture in the Liverpool midfield for the past two seasons since Xabi Alonso left for Real Madrid and he is now receiving the praise he deserves, and won the Standard Chartered Fan’s Player of the Season. He hasn’t been given the famous number 5 Brazil jersey for nothing.
Javier Hernández – Mexico
Chícharito has enjoyed a very successful debut season in the Premier League for Manchester United scoring 20 goals in 45 games in all competitions. His 13 goals in the Premier League alone helped United to their record breaking 19th title.
Edinson Cavani – Uruguay
The Uruguayan enjoyed a prolific season for Napoli this season, scoring 33 goals in all competitions and helping them earn a Champions League place for next season. If Cavani and Suarez can link up Uruguay will go a long way in this competition.
Feel free to comment below about players competing in the competition who I have missed out who you think will have a great tournament.