Messi is the face of the Copa América, but there are other figures worthy of the spotlight

SAO PAULO.- Lionel Messi He is by far the most emblematic figure of the America Cup of this year.

But there are plenty of other players to follow when the continental tournament is played in the United States with 16 teams from the Western Hemisphere.

The list includes the Brazilian Vinícius Junior and the Uruguayan Federico Valverde, who have just won the Champions League. The Ecuadorian Kendry Páez will appear on stage at his precocious 17 years. Christian Pulisic is the reference for the host United States and Santi Giménez of Mexico.


With Neymar injured, Vinícius Júnior will have his first opportunity to be Brazil's main focus in a major tournament. In 2024, the Real Madrid star has become a better striker, and not just a great dribbler, establishing himself as a serious candidate for this year's Ballon d'Or. He has just scored 15 goals in the Spanish League this season, five more than the previous campaign. The 23-year-old striker also scored key goals in the Champions League title campaign, including one in the final. His attacking partner is Rodrygo, a teammate in Madrid. Vinícius will also have another opportunity to spread his anti-racist message, which has given him more followers in his country.


Federico Valverde is the past, present and future of both his team and Real Madrid. The 25-year-old midfielder has established himself as an all-rounder at the Spanish giant, a role that Uruguayan coach Marcelo Bielsa wants him to have in the national team. This season, “Halcón” scored three goals and contributed eight assists for his club, but he is still one of the best passers.


The left winger who was born in Madrid was one of the few positive aspects of Manchester United this season, something that has also excited the long-term project of the Argentine team. Garnacho, 19, scored one of his team's goals in the 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup final. He scored 10 goals in 50 games for his club this season. Garnacho can also play on the right wing, something that simply supports him in the plans of Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni.


Kendry Páez has been playing for Independiente del Valle in his country for two years, shining for his long-distance shots and dribbles that ended in goals. The 17-year-old striker, who will join Premier League side Chelsea next year, scored five goals in 29 games in his first professional season and became the youngest to score in the Ecuadorian league. Last year, Páez provided an assist in his debut with Ecuador, a 2-1 victory over Uruguay, on the second round of the South American World Cup qualifiers. This year he became the starter and key piece of Independiente del Valle.


Christian Pulisic just had one of his best seasons in Europe, scoring 12 goals and nine assists in Italy with AC Milan. The 25-year-old striker's career now looks less promising than several years ago, when he played for Borussia Dortmund and was a young right-back, but he can still score goals, make timely passes and read the game. Pulisic also showed this season that he could play on the left and even in midfield as a kind of playmaker.


Santi Giménez had a prolific season at Dutch club Feyenoord, the best for a Mexican in Europe since before Raúl Jiménez's skull injury. The son of Argentinians, the 23-year-old attacker scored 23 goals and provided six assists to help his team finish second in the Dutch league. His coach Arne Slot has just signed to manage Liverpool and could well take the striker to Anfield. Giménez is a pure nine, with power, speed and calmness against opposing goalkeepers. Dutch players have compared him to a young Robin van Persie.