With the Copa América Centenario kicking off on Friday, now seems as good a time as any to highlight a few of the exciting prospects the competition will have on offer. With this edition of the Copa featuring countries from Concacaf, the list is not exclusive to South American prodigies.
Marlos Moreno – 19 years old – Atletico Nacional – Colombia
Unless you are following this year’s Copa Libertadores, chances are you have not heard much about this young Colombian who the likes of Liverpool and FC Porto are credited with an interest in. This speedster is comfortable on the wings or through the middle. In wide positions, he utilizes his speed and close control to take on and dispose of opponents before putting in telling crosses. When deployed centrally, he has shown the instincts of a player who could develop into a consistent goal scorer. The age of Falcao, Jackson Martinez and Teofilo Gutierrez appears to be over for Colombia, and in Marlos Moreno they have an exciting talent capable of picking up where they left off.
Antonio ‘Tony’ Sanabria – 20 years old – Sporting de Gijon (on loan from Roma) – Paraguay
This youngster’s talent has been known for a while to be honest, but due to a lack of game time at both Sassuolo and Roma it appears he has been forgotten. This past season however has seen the youngster flourish on loan at Sporting de Gijon. 11 goals from 29 appearances has reminded the world of the talent he possesses. With Tony not being particularly strong, he suffers in aerial duels and in holding up play. However his technical ability allows him to side step challenges with ease, and he has shown that when in space he is a dangerous outlet. Goals are in his locker so defenses must be wary.
Christian Pulisic – 17 years old – Borussia Dortmund – United States
This attacking midfielder has recently broken into the first team picture at Borussia Dortmund and has not disappointed. First he became the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga and then he became the youngest player to score two goals in the Bundesliga. More records were to follow in international football in the shape of being the youngest player to represent the United States in a World Cup Qualifier and the youngest player to score for them. Pulisic may be the youngest participant at this summer’s Copa but he won’t be phased by that based on his displays for Dortmund thus far. He’s a modern day attacking midfielder who likes to operate in a free role. He’s proven to be effective at dropping deep to pick up the ball to start attacks, and getting into the box to finish chances. His rise has been rapid so do not be surprised to see him heavily involved in Klinsmann’s plans.
Hirving Lozano – 20 years old – Pachuca – Mexico
Carlos Vela’s loss is Hirving Lozano’s gain. In Lozano, Mexico have a player they hope they will one day be able to build their team around. The Pachuca winger is an exciting talent who displays an impressive maturity to his game already. He operates mainly from the left wing where he likes to cut in on to his stronger right foot, much like Arjen Robben does from the right. He’s a speedster who loves to attack his opponent’s goal directly whether through shots or mazy dribbles into the box. He has forced his way into the Mexican senior team this year and impressed in World Cup Qualification action with a goal against Canada. The Copa will give him a chance to announce himself to the world.
Adalberto Penaranda – 19 years old – Granada (on loan from Watford) – Venezuela
Venezuela will be hoping that in Penaranda they have someone who can fill the void left by their footballing icon Juan Arango. He is rapid and La Liga watchers regularly saw him display a penchant for running head first at defenses with raw speed and quick directional changes. His game as of right now needs a lot of refinement but he has shown that under the right circumstances, he has what it takes to flourish. Despite being a technical player he has no lack for tenacity. He’s a fighter who likes to get stuck in and doesn’t shirk physical challenges. Big teams have already taken notice of him and a strong showing this summer will go far in confirming that Penaranda is the real deal.