The 2011 Copa America has not been a vintage tournament for many reasons: a poor pitch, lasers and firecrackers, delays, delays, delays, a lack of finishing ability, and the usual talk about preparing for the World Cup.
With young teams on show, scouts are watching closely as the tournament reaches the quarterfinals. Four teams are heading home, so it’s time to look at how this Copa America affects the future.
12. Jhasmani Campos, M, Bolivia: Best young talent on the Bolivian team.
11. Fernando Gago, M, Argentina: After two terrible performances by the hosts, Gago has his chance to show just why he’s on Real Madrid’s squad.
10. Camilo Zuniga, D, Colombia: Plenty of defensive talent for Colombia. Zapata just joined Villareal, while Udinese teammate Armero and Napoli’s Zuniga are exciting fullbacks.
9. Marcelo Martins Moreno, F, Bolivia: The key for Bolivia’s hopes in any upcoming tournaments. Toiled fruitlessly up top, getting one glorious chance against Argentina.
8. Adrian Ramos, M, Colombia: Great performances in the group stage may get him out of Hertha Berlin.
7. Radamel Falcao, F, Colombia: Club teams needed no proof of his talents, but he did show he can score with Colombia’s style of play.
6. Carlos Tevez, F, Argentina: He had to be great to show that he was worth Manchester City’s asking price, and he was anything but. With Corinthians’ reasonable £35m bid turned down, it looks like he’ll stay at City.
5. Gonzalo Higuain, F, Argentina: Still unloved by Real Madrid, and curiously unwanted elsewhere. Terrible on Monday night, against Costa Rica.
4. Leonel Moreira, GK, Costa Rica: Continues his development with an international debut. Costa Rica could have quite a battle for the goalkeeping spot in the future, if both Moreira and Alvarado reach their huge potential.
3. Joel Campbell, GK, Costa Rica: Several big Italian teams are keeping an eye him. Good in Costa Rica’s first two games.
2. Javier Pastore, M, Argentina: The Copa could have a £2o million impact on his price tag. If he even gets more than a cameo appearance.
1. Sergio Aguero, F, Argentina: The only person who can score for Argentina. Atletico Madrid must be enjoying Argentina’s games.
12. Lucas Barrios, F, Paraguay: Superb for Borussia Dortmund, Paraguay are waiting for him to start firing.
11. Ozvaldo Vizcarrondo, D, Venezuela: Early contender for player of the tournament.
10. Jose Salomon Rondon, F, Venezuela: Venezuela’s best player.
9. Neymar, F, Brazil: Had to mention him, but this tournament won’t change much.
8. Nelson Haedo Valdes, F, Paraguay: After being relegated with Hercules, eager to impress for Paraguay.
7. Thomas Rincon, M, Venezuela: Connects the defense and attack together at just 23.
6. Felipe Caicedo, F, Ecuador: Nobody really knows how good he is, as he is stuck in Man City’s never-ending squad list. Obviously the key player for Ecuador, though.
5. Julio Cesar, GK, Brazil: Will he ever recover from his error against Holland in the World Cup?
4. Michael Arroyo, M, Ecuador: With Antonio Valencia on the other wing, Arroyo is making it more and more certain that Ecudor’s two best players are wingers.
3. Yohandry Orozco, F, Venezuela: Could not be stopped at U-20 level.
2. Robinho, F, Brazil: Losing first team status at both Milan and Brazil. At the very peak of his career.
1. Ganso, M, Brazil: Might not be leaving Santos as quickly as we thought.
12. Fernando Muslera, GK, Uruguay: In the form of his life.
11. Jean Beausejour, M, Chile: The key man in both Birmingham City and Chile’s midfield. Unfortunately, suspended for the quarter-final.
10. Martin Caceres, D, Uruguay: Has had an interesting career in Spain with Barcelona and Sevilla. Still only 24.
9. Alvaro Pereira, M, Uruguay: If your forwards can’t score, turn to the midfield. Alvaro Pereira has answered the call.
8. Juan Manuel Vargas, M, Peru: Peru’s best player, his talent is obvious, as is his recent injury.
7. Mark Gonzalez, M, Chile: Surely will play for a bigger club than CSKA Moscoa next season.
6. Walter Gargano, M, Uruguay: With all the attention on Napoli’s “Golden Triangle,” Gargano hasn’t gotten credit for his key role. He may slip out of Napoli’s hands this summer.
5. Edinson Cavani, F, Uruguay: After that glorious season with Napoli, it’s not going right in Argentina. Remains one of football’s big mysteries.
4. Raul Fernandez, GK, Peru: Markarian pulled two surprises for the 2011 Copa America. First, he left Irven Avila, the next great talent, out of the squad, despite two devastaing injuries. And secondly, he started Raul Fernandez in goal. That one has definitely worked, and the Avila decision seems to be working, too.
3. Giovani Dos Santos, F, Mexico: Great in the Gold Cup, and at Zaragoza, and seemingly poor at Tottenham Hotspur. Didn’t provide anything new though, and he couldn’t carry Mexico on his back.
2. Diego Forlan, F, Uruguay: A big disappointment so far, after his great World Cup. Atletico Madrid can’t be enjoying Uruguay’s games. Will they enjoy Uruguay- Argentina, the key clash of the quarterfinals?
1. Alexis Sanchez, F, Chile: Can he persuade Barcelona to put up enough money and take a gamble on him?