Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
The 46th edition of the Copa America gets under way in São Paulo, Brazil on June 14th, when the host nation’s opening match against Bolivia kicks off what is certain to be a month of scintillating South American action.
Alongside the chance to lift the prestigious Copa America trophy itself, the tournament has long provided promising players and burgeoning talents with the opportunity to showcase their skills to a global audience.
A string of impressive performances in the Copa America can act as a catalyst for rapid career progression for a player, launching them from relative obscurity to footballing stardom inside the space of a few games.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the exciting young players hoping to shine at this year’s Copa America in Brazil.
Check out our Copa America 2019 outright predictions and betting tips with a whopping 25/1 Outsider Tip here!
Wuilker Fariñez (Millonarios & Venezuela)
21-year old Millonarios youngster Wuilker Fariñez is every inch the archetypal modern goalkeeper. Even though the diminutive 5’9” stopper lacks the height traditionally seen as a goalkeeping prerequisite, Fariñez’ incredible reflexes and composure on the ball more than make up for his smaller size.
Fariñez’ has already won 14 senior caps for Venezuela, and the Caracas born keeper’s performances have seen him linked with a move to La Liga giants Barcelona.
Another clutch of impressive displays between the sticks at the Copa America should see his list of potential suitors lengthen considerably however.
Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors & Uruguay)
23-year old Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nandez shares many of the same traits associated with his historical compatriots of the same position.
Armed with a well-developed passing range and a bone-crunching bite in the tackle, Nandez has been patrolling the Boca Juniors midfield with increasing influence this year.
Schooled at the famed Penarol academy in his homeland, Nandez move to Argentina and Boca in 2017 having made his senior international debut for Uruguay 2 years earlier in 2015.
Newcastle and Leeds were believed to be weighing up a move for Nandez before the summer, though interest in the combative midfielder is bound to spike after the Copa America.
Santiago Arzamendia (Cerro Porteno & Paraguay)
Explosive left-back Santiago Arzamendia was actually born in Argentina, however, the 21-year old opted to play for the country of his family’s heritage instead of Lionel Scaloni’s side.
Arzamendia has been earning rave reviews this year for his energetic performances down Cerro Porteno’s left-flank, and his displays were rewarded with his first senior call up and cap for Paraguay against Mexico a few months ago in late March.
The lightening quick defender has earned notoriety for his devastating delivery from set-pieces, and his general ability to make his presence felt in the attacking third is sure to catch the eye of clubs in Europe.
Everton (Gremio & Brazil)
23-year old left-winger Everton is 1 of only 3 players in Brazil’s 23-man Copa America squad not currently attached to a European club, though that situation is likely to change sooner rather than later.
Everton has been a regular in the Gremio starting XI since 2014 having progressed up through the youth ranks at the club, and his wing wizardry finally earned him a call up to Brazil’s senior squad in 2018.
In total, Everton has pulled on the yellow of the Seleção 4 times, though that number could double before the Copa America finishes this summer.
AC Milan, Man City and Man Utd have all reportedly had scouts watching Everton at Gremio, and a match-winning performance or 2 in Brazil this month could spark a scramble for his signature.
Takefusa Kubo (FC Tokyo & Japan)
Dubbed the “Japanese Messi” in his homeland, 18-year old wonderkid Takefusa Kubo was drafted into his country’s senior squad by manager Hajime Moriyasu for the Cop America, where he hopes to add to the cap he picked up against El Salvador earlier this month.
Kubo spent 4 years at Barcelona’s world-renowned La Masia academy before he was forced to move back to Japan with FC Tokyo in 2015, when FIFA sanctioned the Spanish club for violating regulations regarding the signing of underage players.
The little kid with the big reputation had to bide his time in Tokyo, but this season, Kubo has found another level, hitting 4 goals and 4 assists in 12 J-League appearances for the competition’s early pace-setters.
Kubo is expected to feature heavily for Japan at the Copa America, and if the 18-year old produces the goods, the chances of a summer move back to Europe would be high.
Kubo retains close ties to Barcelona, though Manchester City are also thought to be in frame to sign the midfielder.
Luis Diaz (Atletico Junior & Colombia)
In a largely experienced 23-man Colombian squad, 22-year old Atletico Junior Winger Luis Diaz is among a small clutch of younger players hoping to make an impact at the Copa America.
The rangy outside left has been starring for his current club since making his first team debut for them in 2017.
In 2018, Diaz scored 16 times in 59 appearances for Junior, cementing his place in the side and confirming his reputation as one of Colombia’s most exciting prospects.
Diaz made his international bow for Colombia the same year, and though he has won 3 caps for his country in total since, the winger has yet to play a competitive match for Los Cafeteros.
Diaz has been loosely linked with numerous clubs in the Premier League, though more concrete moves could be made on the back of a productive Copa America for the attacker.
Remember, we’ll be covering the entire Copa America campaign over on our match preview section.
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