If you enjoyed the Gold Cup - and I hope you did, because the final was an excellent game - get ready for more America-flavoured international action.This time, however, you'll get to see a number of potential Chelsea transfer targets in action, including the likes of Javier Pastore and Neymar, as well as actual Blues David Luiz and Ramires. SB Nation will have full coverage of the tournament, but let's take a look at who Chelsea fans should be keeping their eyes on in Argentina.
Radamel Falcao | Centre Forward | Colombia (FC Porto)
If you're looking for a classy all-around striker to spend your days admiring, you could do far worse than Colombia and Porto's Radamel Falcao, who combines speed, power and lethal finishing into an all-around product that's something that's not very far off being the perfect goal-scoring machine. With a strike rate of a goal every 1.11 matches in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, it's no wonder several teams, including Chelsea, are after the 25-year-old, and while he hasn't been able to maintain that ridiculous ratio on international duty he still should be an absolute thrill to watch leading the Colombia line.
Link to Chelsea: Interested in following Andre Villas-Boas to Stamford Bridge, comes with ~£26M release clause.
David Luiz Moreira Marinho | Centre Half | Brazil (Chelsea FC)
After a long, long pursuit of former Benfica centre back David Luiz, Chelsea eventually got their man in the January transfer window, with the curly-haired defender arriving at Stamford Bridge on the same that Fernando torres made his move from Liverpool. Although he was upstaged by the Spanish striker on the day, David Luiz made up for it with a series of scintillating displays in his first few months at the club, outscoring Torres, playing defence like an absolutely mental genius and generally endearing himself to everyone but Manchester United fans with his antics*.
David Luiz is by no means a perfect player. While his forward runs are exhilarating, his discipline (in the tactical and fouling sense) isn't where it needs to be for him to make the step up to the level of the world's elite centre halves. Fortunately for Chelsea fans and Brazil, that's a matter of experience, and he certainly has the talent to compete with the absolute best. Even if he never gets there, his demeanour both on and off the pitch will ensure that he makes plenty of friends wherever he goes.
*NB: He may have made it up to them with his first-minute mistake at Old Trafford.
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior | Left Forward | Brazil (FC Santos) - [Profile]
Neymar is such a ridiculously talented player that we're probably better off showing a video than trying to elucidate his blistering array of skills. So let's do that:
Of course, he has his downsides too, notably his maturity (he is just 19, after all). It'll be interesting to see if he keeps up the diving, whining and sulking at the Copa America, because if he manages to cut that out of his game he suddenly becomes a far more attractive at the silly price Santos are putting on his head. A little bit of failure with Brazil might do him more good than an excellent tournament, actually.
Link to Chelsea: Associated with several European teams, including Chelsea, but carries a price tag of upwards of £40M.
Javier Pastore | Central Attacking Midfielder | Argentina (Palermo) - [Profile]
Palermo's primary playmaker in an up and down season, 22-year-old Javier Pastore has all of the ability to someday become a hugely influential trequartista in the mould of Kaka in his pomp. He's not there yet, of course, but there are flashes of supreme brilliance that tend to make up for his stretches of lackadaisical play. In a world where the midfield creator seems to have been falling out of fashion, Pastore is a wonderful counter-example, and if he develops along the lines that everyone seems to expect, he'll become a fantastic player. A strong Copa could send his transfer value soaring to the point that a team is willing enough to pry him out of Palermo's hands - but unless he performs he may not even get into Argentina's starting lineup.
Link to Chelsea: Chelsea have made several bids for Pastore, but Palermo are holding firm on their €45M asking price.
Ramires Santos do Nascimiento | Central Midfielder | Brazil (Chelsea FC)
Ramires is a 'new breed' Brazilian, meaning that the flair is often subdued in favour of a powerful, hard-working style. But, as Chelsea fans know, that doesn't mean it's gone away entirely - anyone needing a reminder that Ramires belong on the Samba boys just needs to watch the game-killing goal against Manchester City at home. Ramires initially struggled to acclimatise to the Premier League, but came on strong in the second half of the season and should now be considered one of the better box-to-box midfielders around. No, he's not spectacular, but he's exactly what Brazil need in their midfield - someone to do all the work. Or at least share it with Lucas Leiva. Look for a natural progression of his strong second half with the Blues at the Copa.
Alexis Sanchez | Right Forward | Chile (Udinese)
When Antonio di Natale suggested that Alexis Sanchez could some day lay claim to being the best player in the world, the response wasn't peals of laughter, which goes to show just how far Sanchez has come in so little time. No, it's not particularly likely that he unseats Lionel Messi atop football's podium, but he's already the best player in the Serie A, a critical cog to Udinese's run for the fourth Serie A Champions League spot, and one of the jewels of this year's transfer market.
Chile play a system that allows Sanchez to shine, and he should certainly be one of the premier attacking talents on show at the Copa. All eyes will be on him to produce a performance that justifies the €50M price Giampaolo Pozzo has put on his head, but if he plays at the level he's capable of, that's more than likely.
Link to Chelsea: With the competitors for his signature falling out of the running for his services, it looks as though the Blues may have a free run at Sanchez should they decide he's worth the money.