June 11th. Thursday. Otherwise known as today. It marks the opening of the 2015 Copa America. We can hardly stand the sight of pants as we contemplate hosts Chile kicking off the tournament against perennially underrated Ecuador. Having ground our noses on the infuriatingly cumbersome architecture of transfer dealings within South America, this time we are concerned with only one thing: WHO CAN LIVERPOOL HAZ?
Quick disclaimer: in considering which Copa America rosters contain options to jerry Liverpool's curls, we couldn't help but include players who made the provisional rosters, but not the final cuts. So sue us.
The Marco Reus Memorial "Don't Stop Believing" Crew:
Gonzalo Higuain - Forward, Argentina
Edinson Cavani - Forward, Uruguay
You know their names, you've seen their goals, and you've purchased them on your gaming console of choice just to see how it feels. These two names always seem to come up in any conversation about Liverpool transfer targets. Why? Because in a game that is ultimately about putting a ball into a net, Gonzalo Higuain and Edinson Cavani are particularly adept at doing so. They are also eye-wateringly expensive. Perhaps prohibitively so for Liverpool. Further, due to their established pedigree, the line of Champions League suitors that would queue up for their signature is long and full of terrors. Still - would be nice, right?
The "We've Been Having It" Crew:
Carlos Bacca - Forward, Colombia
Roberto Firmino - Forward/Midfielder, Brazil
Mauricio Isla - Defender/Midfielder, Chile
First things first, go back and watch the We've Been Having It commercial. You're welcome. Secondly, we kind of despise this particular crew, because they each make so much Fowler-loving sense it's virtually guaranteed Liverpool will never sign any of them.
The multi-cultural, multi-positional Roberto Firmino is a TLO favorite who could cement a move away from Hoffenheim if the nascent understanding he enjoys with Neymar becomes more pronounced over the course of the Copa. And the multi-positional, multi-talented Mauricio Isla? Duh.
Bacca is perhaps a little old and a little pricey, but not since Penelope Cruz went from Tom Cruise to Javier Bardem has a prospective change made us more excited. He grinds central defenders into submission, he gets injured about as much as Luis Suarez, and he just celebrated establishing himself in an absurdly deep Colombian attack by throwing down 29 goals and 9 assists in all competitions for Sevilla. In the alternate Liverpool timeline where FSG hires Ancelotti as coach and Monchi as Director of Football, Bacca follows them in the door for half of one Christian Benteke. But hey, enjoy Danny Ings, guys!
The "A Little Column A, A Little Column B" Crew:
Luis Muriel - Forward, Colombia
Douglas Costa - Forward/Midfielder, Brazil
Eduardo Vargas - Forward, Chile
Equal parts infuriating and mesmerizing; these three players more or less define the concept of a hit or miss transfer target. Whether it's asking for that 3rd arepa at lunch, signing on for Ukranian purgatory, or paying someone for a neck tattoo of the Air Jordan logo, all three of these guys have demonstrated a streak for poor decision making. They also each pack enough stardust in their boots to regularly induce streaks in the shorts of would be defenders.
A move for one of these would be a gamble, but if you're going to make a gamble in the transfer market, you may as well hedge in favor of the highest level ceiling possible. Be forwarned, however, that none of these players will help us cut down on that Saturday morning, pre-match hate cocktail.
The "Got Your Money" Crew:
Santiago Arias - Defender, Colombia
Casemiro - Midfielder, Brazil
Fabinho - Defender, Brazil
Charles Aranguiz - Midfielder, Chile
Eder Alvarez Balanta - Defender, Colombia
You give us your number, Ayre calls you up
You act like your Aidy don't interrupt
We don't have no trouble with you leaning on things
But we have a little problem with you not leaning on things
We would be ecstatic to see any one of these players in Red. In particular Casemiro or Charles Aranguiz, who would solve the "After Lucas, then what?" conundrum Liverpool perennially face. Arias is basically Colombia's answer to Nathaniel Clyne, and he's likely gettable for that 10m pounds Liverpool reportedly bid for the England international. Fabinho, at 6'2" is a bit of a tweener, although his experience in France seems to have him on pace to challenge Danilo as the starting Brazilian RB of the near future.
Alvarez Balanta's injury record will strike a familiar chord for Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Agger fans, but at his physical peak he reminds us a lot of his compatriot and former Inter Milan great, Ivan Cordoba. Lots of left foot, an at times masochistic willingness to put his body on the line for the team, and a palpable level of respect earned from friend or foe.
The Sebastian Coates Memorial "Whoates?" Crew:
Enzo Roco - Defender, Chile
Sebastian Vegas - Defender, Chile
Igor Lichnovsky - Defender, Chile
Cristian Bonilla - Goalkeeper, Colombia
Renato Tapia - Midfielder/Defender, Peru
Yordy Reyna - Forward, Peru
Remember that time when Sebastian Coates was unexpectedly drawn into Uruguay's squad during the Copa America and proceeded to perform as well or better than any other central defender in the tournament? Neither do we - who is Sebastian Coates, again?
None of these guys are going to show up on your screens in this tournament, nor many other screens that aren't showing youth team or reserve football. However, each has a streak of ability in them that, if the context is right, could help them hit in a big, big way. And that zero to hero potential is what makes this deep cut group our favorite.
Tapia and Reyna have both made their moves to Europe and are ticking over as developmental assets for FC Twente and Red Bull Salzburg, respectively. Tapia, in particular, has all of the right physical tools at his disposal to go full William Carvalho by the time the next Copa America rolls around. Reyna is a longer shot, but he already does a damn good Jefferson Farfan impersonation if you ask us.
Bonilla has parlayed an imposing, athletic showing in the 2013 Toulon Tournament into... two more seasons in the Colombian Primera A. As such, his predicted ascendency to the upper rungs of the game is decidedly behind schedule. Then again, Liverpool are reportedly looking to sign this guy.
For the three Chilean CBs on this list, we bring you a special report from our assorted Chilean cousins (colloquialisms roughly translated):
Igor is a star for Porto's B team. His game belies the idiotic expression permanently plastered on his face. He's tall, really strong in the air, and not so bad on the ground. He needs to work on the physique, but he's reminiscent of (current Chilean first team CB) Marcos Gonzales. He'd be great in a sweeper role.
Enzo Roco is also good, minus the stupid face. Elche had him on loan with an option to buy, but got demoted so it sounds like he'll be back in Chile next year. He arrived in January and by the end of the season had established himself as an important player for them, even though he's capable of shitting in his pants now and again.
Vegas plays for Audax, and debuted at an extremely young age in the first division, and is already captain of the u20 side. He's been scouted by the bigger South American clubs and some European clubs, as well. Him and Igor are probably the two best CB prospects we have right now.
At the end of the day, all 3 are for the future, but they've shown enough that the fans are thoroughly aroused in anticipation of their arrival in the senior squad.
So there you have it, folks. VIVA CHILE, CARAJO!!!