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The best Latin American players to follow at the 2017 Confederations Cup

The best Latin American players to follow at the 2017 Confederations Cup

Posted by PanamericanWorld on June 21, 2017

Untill July 2 the winners of the six FIFA confederation championships, Germany–who qualify by virtue of winning the 2014 World Cup–and hosts Russia will battle it out in four different cities. Those two sides will be joined by Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Portugal and Cameroon in what promises to be a fascinating competition.

Not only will the Confederations Cup give fans a chance to see how the teams are shaping up for next year’s World Cup, it also allows the players to put themselves in the shop window and show off their talents. At the last edition, Brazilian midfielder Paulinho was able to turn a stellar performance into a big money move to England’s Tottenham Hotspur. This year’s Confederations Cup has young talent to boot, with Mexico and Chile, especially, having a handful of potential stars that could make a direct splash into the world soccer conscience this summer. Let’s take a look.

Confederations

This photo is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.

El Tri has looked convincing in World Cup qualifying so far, and a 3-0 win against Honduras on June 8 left the team in a strong position to win the Hex and qualify to Russia 2018. One of the scorers that night was 21-year-old Hirving Lozano, an attacking midfielder that will also represent the country in Russia. “Chucky” Lozano is creating buzz with his play at Pachuca in Liga MX, and is now rumoured to be on his way to Europe with a big money move to Manchester City. However those hoping to see the youngster in the English Premier League may have to wait a while, as a two-year loan deal has reportedly been agreed with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.

Also on the pitch against Honduras was 23-year-old Carlos Salcedo, who has had an interesting career in the MLS, Liga MX, and Serie A so far. The defender first played for Real Salt Lake before moving to Chivas in 2015, before completing a one-year loan at Italian side Fiorentina last season. At 6’1″, El Titan is a physical presence for Mexico, and a player that looks set to improve with age and experience.

Confederations

Photo via FIFA

Mexico will also count on youngsters Orbelin Pineda and Jesus Gallardo in Russia. The pair offer an exciting attacking threat, with 22-year-old Pumas forward Gallardo performing well towards the end of the Liga MX season, as his club reached the Liga MX final. The Mexico City squad must be wary about bids from Europe if he performs well at the Confederations Cup. Fellow attacker Pineda is a tricky 21-year-old midfielder who, like Lozano, has also been linked to a move to Manchester City. His current club, Chivas, has headed off any talk of a transfer so far, but it may be difficult to resist if Pep Guardiola’s team come back with an offer of serious money.

Lozano, Salcedo, Gallardo and Pineda represent the cream of the crop of young Mexican players and although domestic fans might want them to stay in Liga MX, national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio believes they would be better off playing in Europe in order to make the national team stronger. With big money often on the table and the words of the coach ringing in their ears, how many of the young stars will be left in Liga MX come the end of the Confederations Cup?

Confederations

This photo is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.

The Chilean squad also features five players who currently ply their trade in the Mexican league. Among them are 24-year old defender Enzo Roco and 22-year-old forward Martin Rodriguez, both of Cruz Azul. Roco already has 16 caps for La Roja, and may be used to inject some youth into an ageing Chilean defense.

His clubmate Rodriguez is more of an unknown quantity on the international stage, with only three caps to his name. Rodriguez did feature in the friendly against Russia on June 9, but with only 14 appearances and one goal last season in Liga MX, the diminutive forward needs to hold down a place at Cruz Azul if he wants to force his way into the national picture on a regular basis.

Another Chilean youngster to watch is Paulo Diaz, a 23-year-old defender that plays for San Lorenzo in Argentina. The squad is having a great season, currently sitting second in the table behind Boca Juniors, and Diaz boosted his popularity with the fans by scoring the winning goal against powerhouse side River Plate on June 4. The center back will have to hope that San Lorenzo can keep up their good form while he is in Russia, as the Argentinian league is not on break like Liga MX.

Looking to the Chilean domestic league, 24-year-old forward Angelo Sagal stands out as a rising star. After scoring ten goals for Huachipato, one of the weaker teams in the Primera Division, larger Chilean clubs like Colo Colo and Universidad de Chile are rumored to be interested in signing the left-footer. 

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