Despite the season being completed weeks ago. The off-season has only begun with the Nations League and now with the Copa America starting this Saturday in Brazil.
Some of the biggest footballing stars in the world go head-to-head as Argentina’s Lionel Messi will potentially face Uruguay’s Edison Cavani or Colombia’s James Rodriguez. Brazil were favourites heading into Saturday’s opener but injury to star player, Neymar, has thrown the competition out of the water as Messi aims for his first international silverware.
Despite having some of best football players in one tournament, these next few weeks could be crucial for players to make a name for themselves. As the transfer window starts to heat up, the Copa America could be a good way to introduce yourself to footballing world and other potential suitors.
So before the competition starts on Saturday – Here are a few players to look out for in Brazil over the next few weeks.
Giovani Lo Celso
Club: Real Betis
After struggling to make an impression in France, Lo Celso was sent out on loan to Real Betis from Paris St-Germain. The Argentine has enjoyed a good spell with the La Liga side and has attracted a few of the European giants ahead of the summer transfer window. The 23 year-old played 46 games, scoring 16 and assisting 8. Argentina have lost their touch with no playmaker supplying Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi in the frontline and Lo Celso could become a vital player ahead of the Copa America.
Club: AC Milan
A player with flair and skill is not hard to find in Brazil. The likes of Neymar, Willian and Lucas Moura have stolen the limelight with their pace and trickiness causing havoc in the box. Now, Lucas Paqueta is reportedly the next one to follow after already causing mischief in the Serie A, despite making only 17 appearances this season. Neymar’s unfortunate injury has left the gap open for someone to be the talisman ahead of this Copa America. So, we could be seeing a lot more of Lucas Paqueta in the Copa America than previously thought.
Club: Real Madrid
The Uruguayan has enjoyed a very up and down season with Real Madrid, which is mainly not his fault. But Los Blancos’ troubling season has taken away the limelight of Valverde’s impressive first season at the Bernbeau. The 20 year-old has been recognised as a hardworking, box-to-box midfielder. This means Valverde is involved in the attacking and defending phases of play with his biggest asset being his ability to get past opponents and find pockets of space in the middle. The Real Madrid youngster made 25 appearances in all competitions this season with Zidane being the most trustworthy towards the midfielder in his short return. Valverde will be a major part of any success for Uruguay this summer.
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Many would consider this as a surprise choice for the final Argentina 23-man squad. However, youngster Juan Foyth has found himself heading to Brazil. The 21-year-old has been limited to game time at Tottenham Hotspur with only 17 appearances in all competitions. But the defender has become one of Argentina recognisable centre-backs with his composure and calmness on the ball and is the perfect player to play out of the back. Nicolas Otamendi and Funes Mori are a few of the most experienced defenders in the squad, but if the final warm up squad was any indication then we could see Juan Foyth being part of starting eleven.
Club: Cerro Porteño
Definitely one of the names that many football fans will find hard to recognise, but could be a player to look out for heading into the Copa America. The 21-year-old plays in his home country at Cerro Porteño and is a flying full-back. Modern day full-backs are more known for their attacking presence over defending and one particular ability is crossing. The Paraguayan is known for his attacking threat down the line and can deliver a perfect cross on his wonder of a left foot. Arzamendia used to be a former winger so with no surprise, the 20 year-old has plenty of pace to get past his opponent. He appeared in 14 games in all competitions, grabbing two goals and four assists across the campaign.