CONMEBOL focus: The top talents at Copa América 2024

While much of the attention has been focused on this summer’s European Championship, another equally exciting international competition is about to get under way.

The Copa América kicks off in the USA tomorrow, with defending champions Argentina taking on Canada at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

We’ve used Twenty3’s Toolbox to take a closer look at a selection of the best players at the tournament.

Alexis Mac Allister (Argentina)

“Wonderful player, wonderful boy,” said Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp of Alexis Mac Allister in April.

The midfielder has been increasingly influential in the Premier League since making the move to Merseyside from Brighton last summer.

That came after he had played a key role in Argentina’s memorable World Cup win, with the 25-year-old now a stalwart in Lionel Scaloni’s starting XI.

His energy and positional intelligence out of possession are both invaluable, as is his quality on the ball.

No player in the Premier League last season completed more ball recoveries in the opposition half than Mac Allister (173).

He also ranked sixth for defensive duels won (187) and seventh for passes completed into the final third (239).

Terrier-like in his pursuit of the ball, Mac Allister has quickly become a complete midfielder, as capable breaking up play as he is at creating chances.

His dynamism in central areas will be vital again, as Argentina look to win yet another tournament.

Rodrygo (Brazil)

Rodrygo has become the latest brilliant Brazilian to star at Real Madrid.

While Vinicius Junior often gets the plaudits both domestically and internationally, his slightly older teammate is equally worthy of praise.

The 23-year-old scored 10 goals and provided three assists in LaLiga last season. No player in the division had more touches in the opposition box (173), while only Mason Greenwood (97) attempted more shots (86).

Rodrygo is often mesmerising with the ball at his feet, ranking in LaLiga’s top ten for dribbles completed (110), progressive runs (151) and attacking duels won (166).

Translating his club form onto the international stage will be the aim now. He has 23 caps to his name but just six goals scored so far.

Brazil manager Dorival Júnior will hope he can unlock the Real Madrid forward’s best form — if he can, the Seleção will be formidable in attack this summer.

Federico Valverde (Uruguay)

Another Real Madrid player, but a less extravagant one, Federico Valverde has continued to excel at both club and international level.

He is understated and unassuming but integral to any team he plays in, ranking inside LaLiga’s top ten players for both passes received (1,687) and progressive runs (106) last season.

That ability to take a pass in midfield and drive forward is one of Valverde’s defining traits. And he is excellent at ensuring his side remain on the front foot, completing a high volume of passes into the final third (238).

The 25-year-old is superb out of possession, too, using his impressive athleticism and positional intelligence to press incessantly — only Getafe’s Nemanja Maksimović (23) made more dangerous ball recoveries in the opposition half last term (18).

Perhaps an underappreciated aspect of Valverde’s game is his reliability. He featured in all but one league game for Real Madrid in 2023/24 and already has 56 caps for Uruguay.

He is consistent and dependable, and will almost certainly be among the top performers at this summer’s Copa América.

Luis Díaz (Colombia)

It has been a tough year for Luis Díaz.

His father was kidnapped in Colombia in November and held hostage for 12 days, before being reunited with his family.

Díaz, commendably, went about his business on the pitch with typical focus and determination.

When the winger has the ball, he is intent on keeping it. Only two players in the Premier League — Dominic Solanke and Dejan Kulusevski — covered a greater high-speed running distance in possession than Díaz (13,402m) last season.

He was also inside the division’s top ten for non-penalty xG (12.72), progressive runs (130), link-up plays completed (136) and loose ball duels attempted (132).

Combative and a consistent goal threat, Díaz will be an important figure for Colombia this tournament.

Antonee Robinson (USA)

Full-backs are often neglected in pre-tournament previews. Their more glamorous attacking counterparts tend to get most of the attention.

But left-back Antonee Robinson will be a key player for the USA if they are to go deep in the Copa América.

Likely to be tasked with defending against some of the best wingers in world football, the Fulham man will need to be on top form.

He impressed in the Premier League last term: no player made more successful defensive actions (488), while he ranked second for interceptions (255) and third for defensive duels won (226).

Robinson will play his part going forward, too, having racked up a commendable six assists across the campaign.

His contributions up and down the left flank will be essential for the USA, as they look to succeed on home soil.

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