Copa America 2019: Players to watch14 June 2019
Credit Image – @CopaAmerica
The 46th Copa America kicks off in the early hours of the morning (GMT) tomorrow, with hosts Brazil facing outsiders Bolivia.
Twelve nations, including guests Japan and Qatar, fight it out in six venues across five Brazilian cities, as they look to become continental champions of South America.
After previewing the tournament and what each team have to offer this summer, the team at Radio Football wanted to take a look at a few of the players involved that could make an impact.
LOUIS MOIR believes Venezuela’s JOSEF MARTINEZ is one to look out for in Brazil.
The frontman has had a very successful couple of years in the MLS with Atlanta United, scoring an incredible 35 goals in 39 games on the way to collecting a league title in 2018.
His goal haul not only led to a league winners medal, but also the Golden Boot award and the MLS Most Valuable Player prize.
Since moving to the US following frustrating spells in Switzerland and Italy, the 26 year old has been in inspired form, averaging just short of a goal a game ratio since 2017.
Though fairly small in stature, Martinez is very useful in the air, technically superb, both footed and very quick. While usually deployed as an out and out striker, he is also capable of playing in wider attacking positions.
Martinez is both a deadly finisher and an absolute menace for defenders, and will be looking to take the tournament by storm and secure a move back to one of Europe’s top leagues.
CHRIS STONADGE is looking forward to seeing what Uruguay’s 23 year old midfielder NAHITAN NĀNDEZ has to offer in Brazil.
The tenacious and hardworking Boca Juniors midfielder featured in every one of his country’s games in the 2018 World Cup and followed that up by reaching the final of the Copa Libatadores for his club side.
Capable of playing in both central and right sided midfield roles, Nāndez is thought to be wanted by Premier League clubs including Leicester City aswell as a host of clubs in Italy’s Serie A.
The Boca man is a very typical Uruguayan player, a good technician capable of mixing it up and putting his foot in. He also has superb mobility and aptitude to get up and down the pitch.
Nāndez will form part of an impressive Uruguay midfield including Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira and Juventus’ Rodrigo Bentancur. He will be hoping a good Copa America showing will pave the way for him to join them in Europe.
Another Uruguayan, MAXI GÓMEZ, is CONOR DUNFORD’s one to watch.
The 22 year old Celta Vigo frontman is seen as his country’s next big sensation and likely replacement for aging pair Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani in the years to come.
An out and out striker, Gómez is a clinical finisher of chances and has superb aerial ability. He also possesses great strength to hold off and trouble defenders.
These attributes, along with his impressive scoring record, have alerted many Premier League clubs such as West Ham, Aston Villa and Everton.
Celta had a disappointing campaign last time out, finishing marginally above the drop zone, and could be tempted to cash in on a rumoured £45 million release clause in his contract in order to strengthen their squad.
Though still raw and developing as a player, Gómez will be hoping that a good summer will tempt those interested to take him to pastures new and bigger challenges.
My (CHRIS KELLY) player to watch, Brazil’s DAVID NERES, is perhaps a more mainstream choice than the others. However, I believe that, with Neymar’s injury and playing on home soil, this could be the tournament where he elevates himself from starlet to finished article.
Neres has had a fantastic couple of seasons as part of Ajax’s dynamic, emerging young side which took Europe by storm last season.
The 22 year old plays as a winger/wide forward, predominantly on the left hand side and possesses great pace, technique and trickery.
As well as being a regular creator of chances, Neres has the knack of arriving in the box at the right time to bury chances himself at the back post.
Like many of his Ajax counterparts, Neres has drawn interest from clubs across Europe, with Everton the latest. But, with respect to the Merseysiders, Neres will be hoping a strong Copa America may lead to some of Europe’s bigger clubs coming calling.
So there’s just a few players to keep your eye on in Brazil this summer. I’m sure they’ll be many others too who will look to catch the eye of watching scouts and take their careers to new levels.