The football-free summer you thought you were getting has proven to be anything of the sort, and our next treat is the 2019 Copa América.
All 10 South American footballing nations – plus guests Japan and Qatar – will battle it out in Brazil for glory… and a spot in the next Confederations Cup.
As you’ll probably remember from the 2014 World Cup, kick-off times in Brazil aren’t the best for European audiences, but we bet you’ll be staying up for a fair few games.
Previous editions of the competition have provided us with a glimpse of future Premier League stars, with Salomon Rondón and Nicolás Otamendi among those to come to England after the 2015 tournament and Claudio Bravo joining Manchester City off the back of the following year’s ‘Centénario’ edition.
Chances are, then, we’ll see at least one player rock up in the Premier League after the 2019 edition. We’ve picked out a few who you might want to keep an eye on.
Yes, we’ve seen Medel in the Premier League before, but his season at Cardiff in 2013-14 doesn’t feel like an accurate representation of what he can do.
The Chilean captain didn’t disgrace himself in South Wales – it was more about everything that went on around him – but he feels worthy of another crack at English football after spending the last few years with Inter Milan and Beşiktaş.
Medel, known as ‘Pitbull’ for his on-pitch aggression and collaborations with Kesha and Jennifer Lopez (just the on-pitch stuff – Ed.), has been linked with a move to West Ham United to link up with compatriot Manuel Pellegrini.
If he does join the Hammers, he’d be playing his club football in a seventh different country. They should call him Mr Worldwide.
You’ve probably already seen a fair bit of David Neres if you’ve been paying attention to the Champions League – the Ajax winger scored against Real Madrid and Juventus as the Dutch club came within seconds of reaching the final, and had his shot against Tottenham gone in off the post instead of bouncing back out, they probably would have made it all the way.
Neres has been linked with Liverpool and Chelsea in recent weeks, though a move to the latter would be dependent on the London club’s transfer ban being thrown out or at least delayed.
The former São Paulo youngster scored his first international goal in the 7-0 warm-up victory over Honduras, and you sense his value is only likely to go up if he performs well on home soil.
Dybala has been linked with the Premier League on plenty of occasions, but there are people who seem to think this could be the summer when a move actually happens. With Moise Kean showing himself to be ready for first-team action in Turin already, Juve seem more likely to cash in now than one year ago.
Liverpool is the most likely destination, with the Reds looking for an upgrade on the now-departed Daniel Sturridge, and we doubt money will be an obstacle. Remarkably, it’s Dybala’s first Copa América, but he ought to be able to step up in the absence of Gonzalo Higuaín, who quit international football a few months back.
Uruguay striker Gómez was barely used at the 2018 World Cup, getting a couple of run-outs as a substitute and failing to find the net, but 12 months is a long time in football. The Celta Vigo striker still has to compete with Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani, as well as former Middlesbrough striker Cristhian Stuani, but a second successive double-figure season for La Liga goals has convinced people he’s no flash in the pan.
West Ham were linked with Gómez in the January transfer window, and now Everton have joined the race as Marco Silva weighs up whether it might be a smart move to play a recognised striker for a couple of games a season. Hey, it might work!
| GOAL! |
A fantastic ball from Ryad Boudebouz and Maxi Gomez is able to fire it in the bottom corner 👏
Celta lead against Barcelona! pic.twitter.com/X0dK4v5PyQ
— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) May 4, 2019
Sure, we know all about James already, having watched him break through at Porto and then star at the 2014 World Cup, but we’re yet to watch him with our Premier League tinted glasses on. The Colombian, who will turn a few days after the final, has been recalled by Real Madrid after a loan spell at Bayern Munich, prompting suggestions they have made the move in order to accelerate a permanent sale of the man who once cost them £75m.
Who would pay big bucks for a player whose club are looking to get rid, and who could probably be signed at a fraction of the asking price? We can’t believe you even had to ask. Manchester United are rumoured to be among the front-runners, and if the former Monaco man can be inspired by a return to the setting for his World Cup heroics, that price may well tick up before the summer’s out.