July 4th is a day most notable for its marking of one country establishing a hard fought independence from another. In remembrance of that historic victory an entire nation joins in an irresponsible level of drinking, explosions, and shouty shades of red, white, and blue. Fireworks burst from cannons and exclamations emanate from the soul. Not America's independence - Chile! 2015 Copa America Champions! Mejor pais del mundo!
As we savor our motherland's run into continental and global importance, our other true love, Liverpool FC, remains irrepressibly at the forefront of our thoughts. Prior to this tournament we considered who might be a good fit for a Red splurge or two. Now that LFC sit on the other side of six excellent signings, there are much fewer needs to be met. And after three weeks of frantic Copa America action there are two very specific players that have curled to the tips of our coiffures as potentially brilliant final pieces of Liverpool's summer transfer puzzle.
But first, lets recognize a few gentlemen who did nothing but inspire our brows and pints in equally upward trajectories with their class performances.
Romel Quiñonez - Goalkeeper, Bolivia
Quiñonez is in his early 20s, still plays in the Bolivian league for Club Bolivár, and packed enough into his performances during this tournament that he's virtually assured a move to a more prestigious side in South America, if not one in Europe. Whether it was his man of the match heroics against Ecuador, or his game salvaging ones against Mexico, the lad proved to be quick off his line, strong in his challenges, and armed with a formidable mental strength. One to watch moving forward.
Pedro Gallese - Goalkeeper, Perú
In a tournament full of strong goalkeeping performances, Pedro Gallese's was arguably the strongest. He marshaled perhaps the most impressive backline in Chile, a quintessential example of a collective being greater than the sum of its parts. Perú's defense stifled, challenged, smothered, recovered, scraped, and tackled their way to a wholly unexpected third place finish. Paolo Guerrero will deservedly get the majority of the plaudits, but make no mistake Gallese's as talented as anyone on that roster.
25 years old, 6'2", strong, agile, and assured. There is absolutely zero reason why this guy is still playing in the Peruvian league, and someone is going to have to explain to you all why Bogdan was a preferred transfer target as Mignolet's deputy, because we sure as hell have no reason for it.
Luis Advincula - Fullback, Perú
Every time we watched the red sashed Peruvian team over the last three weeks, our eyes were constantly drawn to the right flank of the team. Sure, Guerrero's hair was the star of the show, Gallese's brilliance was the deserved undercard, but time after time the guy who came up with the meat and potatoes of Peruvian results was Luis Advincula.
Fleet feet, a wonderful understanding with the peppy Christian Cueva in front of him, and an obvious love of defending. Neymar, Jámes, Alexis, Valdivia, Filipe Luis - the footballers on Advincula's scouting report during this tournament were some of the biggest challenges the continent has to offer, challenges he met head on, for better or worse. We love that. If reports of Manquillo being on his way out of town are true, we might do a lot worse than calling Hoffenheim a second time this summer.
Edwin Valencia - Midfielder, Colombia
Carlos Sanchez - Midfielder, Colombia
In a game so fondly remembered for moments of individual brilliance, it is steady partnerships like the one shared in the heart of Colombia's midfield that really define football. Obviously, the absurdly under performing attack meant this team belied their pre-tournament expectations in spectacular fashion. But none of that shade can be thrown at the feet of Señores Sanchez and Valencia. Athletic, hard in the tackle, simple in possession - that's all.
BPL fans will have watched Sanchez playing for Aston Villa and mostly shrugged at the 27 year old's ability, but in combination with the 30 year old Valencia, these two provided a double pivot to make Capello salivate.
Where it concerns Liverpool, however, there are really only two performers from this Copa that we're interested in. To be clear, LFC's window has been a sensational one so far: Nathaniel Clyne shores up the right flank, Bogdan is a goalkeeper, Bobby Firmino brings more than enough stardust to match his eye-watering fee, Danny Ings is underwhelming but solid young depth, Joe Gomez is a smart hedge on Ilori, AdekanYEEZUS is yet another example of Liverpool being a primary destination for yutes, and James Milner plays football for a living. Every Liverpool fan should be ecstatic with how swiftly this business has been sewn up.
What's more, there seems to be a continued push to splash on Christian Benteke. Whether you believe he's worth the full buyout clause or not, the club do not seem to be bashful about spending another £20m-£30m to underscore ambitions for the season. There is a legitimate argument to be made that this money should be spent on a single striking option to serve as Daniel Sturridge's body double. Should that fail, Hairspray suggests a plan B. Just in case you need it, Ian.
Eduardo Vargas - Forward, Chile
Charles Aránguiz - Midfielder, Chile
Yep - these two. Take that £25m you want to spend on Benteke, keep ten for more Adekanye/Gomez style blue chip youngsters, and sign both of these lads.
We know what you may be thinking - there is nothing in Vargas' all around Copa America performance that actually assuages any concerns regarding the guy's consistency. Ever since breaking out for Universidad de Chile, he has seemed wildly productive for Chile, and wildly unimpressive for anyone else. We get it. But did you not see that goal against Peru? Have you not noticed the buzzing athleticism and hard knock willingness to fly around on the press? Is there really no place in a Liverpool attack for that sort of unrelenting pace and availability? Of course there is - and yet that critique of his mercurial nature remains valid. Enter Sir Charles Aránguiz.
One of the reasons Edu Vargas broke out for U de Chile several years back, and a big reason why he is such an importance piece of the national team setup, is a nascent understanding with the deep lying midfielder, Charles Aránguiz. Aránguiz tackles, Vargas sprints into space, Charles picks a ball forward, and suddenly everyone is yelling VAMOS!!!! Sometimes guys just need a little help from their friends at this level.
Edu Vargas at his best is absolutely a defense destabilizing, goal scoring force. He's the sort of live-wire act that keeps everyone on their toes. Aránguiz is a steady force who would be able to slot in immediately as Lucas' deputy, while offering enough flexibility to fit into any tactical permutation that Rodgers may be percolating on.
Both these guys are the right age, right experience, right price, and right fit for Liverpool. Also, empanadas. Give it a whirl, Ian, go ahead and try to sign the Belgian. But know that if that falls through there are couple of Machas a la Parmesanas just waiting to be embraced in Red.
For posterity, the Copa America Final penalty shootout:
Matigol with a tempo setting thunderbolt into the corner roof of the net - that is how one hits a penalty. The Messianic Alien casually curling low beyond his Barcelona teammate's savvy read. Vidal sobering up enough to squeak one past the gargantuan Sergio Romero. Gonzalo Higuain generously shaving 10m quid off his transfer fee, and a flickering flame of hope turns into a roaring hellfire. Sir Charles Aranguiz wrapping our heart into knots with his net shearing daisy cutter. Claudio Bravo never letting Ever again, eyes too watery to read the keeper's lips, though one would imagine it was something along the lines of wishing Mr. Banega's family well. Alexis. Of course. El Nino Maravilla, for the history books...YOU CHEEKY MOTHERLOVING BASTARD! VAMOS CHILE Y LA CONCHATUMADRE!!!!! CHI-CHI-CHI!!!!! LE-LE-LE!!!! VI-VA CHI-LE!!!!!!!!!!!