Last weekend saw the start of the South American Under-20 Championship with the next generation of South American maestros set to shine.
This year’s main attraction comes in the form of Neymar, already having represented the senior side. The 18-year-old Brazilian wonderkid has been the topic of much speculation during previous transfer windows, but will this be his chance to secure a big European move?
Neymar’s midfield counterpart, Lucas, will also be looking to shine. After a series of impressive league performances for Santos, he will be looking to form a devastating partnership with Neymar as Brazil bid for their third successive title.
The tournament is known for producing young talent, but none will ever be as prominent as Lionel Messi. The 2010 Ballon D’or winner represented Argentina in the 2005 tournament. At the time Messi was only 17-years-old and even Argentinian supporters were unaware of this prodigy. After showcasing his mesmerizing brilliance on the continental stage, Messi put his name on the map and has never looked back since.
Other world stars that have graced the tournament include Argentinian duo Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez who came from two very different stories. Tevez was already a Boca Juniors idol when appearing in the tournament back in 2003. However, Mascherano had never played a first team game for River Plate when selected back in 2003. Nevertheless the manager’s faith in the midfielder paid off and Mascherano went on to represent the full international side within months… and he still hadn’t made his River Plate debut!
So next in the pipeline for Argentina is the american-born Michael Hoyos. Having grown up in Los Angeles, the attacking midfielder moved to Argentina when he was 15. He was picked up by Estudiantes and made his debut at the tender age of 18 and would go on to be an integral part in their title-winning season.
Unfortunately for Argentina, Hoyos has dual-nationality and could eventually choose to represent USA at senior level over the Argentines. But if he was to fulfill his current potential, I am certain it would be World Cup contenders, Argentina, rather than the often lacklustre Americans that he’d like to gain his first cap with.
Fortunately for them both, Brazil and Argentina have avoided each other in the group stage although the Brazilians face tough opponents in the shape of Colombia.
The tournament’s strange format has been of much dispute. The tournament consists of two groups, in which the top 3 teams qualify to create a new group. This new group then decides the finishing places of all teams with prizes to the top four nations.
Follow The Youth Radar for analysis and reports on this years tournament, it will proove a very interesting spectacle!