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Five players who have caught the eye at the Copa America

The Copa America group stage is over and it’s time to take stock before the knockout stages heat up. It’s been a fortnight of fantastic action so far and we’ve picked out five players who have caught the eye.

Lautaro Martinez (Argentina)

While the big names have failed to catch fire at Euro 2024, across the Atlantic there have been no such issues for some of South America’s superstars. Lautaro Martinez arrived at the Copa America having won the Capocannoniere award in Inter Milan’s Serie A title success and has continued that rich vein of form in the United States.

The 26-year-old is the leading scorer in the tournament with four goals from three games, as the world champions have eased into the knockouts without conceding a goal.

Martinez’s record is all the more remarkable in that he’s played just 121 minutes. After scoring late goals off the bench against Canada and Chile in the opening two games, he bagged a brace from the start in the 2-0 win over Peru. The shirt, surely, is his to lose now.

Jon Aramburu (Venezuela)

Jon Aramburu might be the breakout star of the Copa America so far. An unused substitute in the opening game, he came into the Venezuela team against Mexico and has not looked back. He produced a phenomenal performance as Venezuela beat El Tricolor 1-0, with a huge nine tackles and 11 ground duels won from full-back.

The 21-year-old retained his place as Venezuela made it three wins from three against Jamaica. He was again productive in his defensive work, with six tackles, while setting up Eduard Bello for the opening goal. After just five league starts for Real Sociedad last season, the youngster is thriving amid a chance to perform.

Willian Pacho (Ecuador)

Willian Pacho’s performances at Eintracht Frankfurt have alerted Europe’s top teams with the centre-back part of an emerging golden generation of Ecuadorian talent. The 22-year-old will have done his hopes of a high-profile move no harm at the Copa America, having been a magnet-like presence for balls into the box in the United States.

Pacho has racked up a tournament-leading average of nine clearances per game, including a huge 14 as Ecuador battled to a goalless draw with Mexico. The defender’s distribution has also been evident with several switches of play, averaging five accurate long passes per game at the tournament so far. Ecuador will take on holders Argentina in the quarter-finals.

Maximiliano Araujo (Uruguay)

Uruguay have perhaps been the most impressive team in the tournament so far, with Darwin Nunez excelling in attack and Federico Valverde bossing the midfield as the nation’s top talent has come to the fore.

Maximiliano Araujo has been an impressive under-the-radar performer in Marcelo Bielsa’s side, who are the leading scorers with nine goals from three games to secure a perfect passage into the quarter-finals. The 24-year-old plays his club football with Deportivo Toluca in Mexico and made his international debut last year.

Araujo has scored twice in three games and also laid on an assist for Nunez in the 5-0 thrashing of Bolivia. The winger was a standout in that victory with 10 ground duels won, four successful dribbles and two chances created, alongside a goal and assist. Uruguay will hope his tournament is not over after being stretchered from the field against the USA, following a clash of heads with Tim Ream.

James Rodriguez (Colombia)

James Rodriguez has rolled back the years at this summer’s Copa America with the Colombian at his creative best.

The 32-year-old’s career has been on the slide since leaving Real Madrid in 2020 but he remains a fantastic footballer to watch.

Rodriguez opened the tournament with two assists against Paraguay, before setting up another goal for Jhon Cordoba as Costa Rica were beaten in game two. No player has recorded more assists (3) and only Lionel Messi has managed more key passes (5.5) per game than Rodriguez (3.7) so far.

Class is indeed permanent.

Read – Euro 2024: Five players who impressed in the Round of 16

See more – Five defensive midfielders Premier League clubs are battling to sign

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