The Premier League may be over, but football never stops. The world’s attention turns to South America – Chile, to be specific – starting Thursday for the Copa America.
It’s a great tournament to watch, in no small part because of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Alexis Sanchez and others. The crowds, too, are noisy and colourful; the technique and skill on the pitch unrivalled.
A smart place, then, to scout out some potential bargains.
Everton are in the market for a number of players; Roberto Martinez wants a winger, a ‘continental no.10’ in attacking midfield, a striker and a left-sided centre back.
Here are five players from the tournament the Catalan could watch with that in mind.
LUCAS BARRIOS (PARAGUAY, SPARTAK MOSCOW)
Strong and with good movement, the striker is very much a player who thrives off good service in the box. He rose to fame in Europe at Borussia Dortmund, firing in 35 goals in his first two seasons in the Bundesliga.
He would soon be replaced by Robert Lewandowski, however, prompting a move to China. He returned to Spartak Moscow but had to move to Ligue 1 side Montpellier on loan to regain his form, scoring 11 goals in 30 games last season.
Spartak would no doubt be open to selling the 30-year-old and, if Montpellier don’t retain him, would add experience and goals in reserve for the Blues.
SALOMON RONDON (VENEZUELA, ZENIT)
Rondon scores goals wherever he goes. He did so at Las Palmas in Spain’s second-tier, which earned him a move to La Liga side Malaga. After 25 league goals in two seasons between 2010 and 2012, he moved to Rubin Kazan of Russia; his performances there would, ultimately, lead to a place up-front for the best team in the country.
The 25-year-old has scored 13 league goals in just 26 appearances under Andre Villas-Boas at Zenit this season, and also possesses experience in the Champions League and Europa League. He has a one-in-three record at international level and would provide great competition for Romelu Lukaku.
JAVIER AQUINO (VILLARREAL, MEXICO)
Mexico are one of the two invited sides for this year’s tournament – Jamaica are the other – and Aquino looks set for a starring role in what is a shadow squad due to the nation’s commitments to another international tournament, the Gold Cup.
The Villarreal winger was loaned to Rayo Vallecano last season and averaged more than a chance created per game. Quick and direct, he would fit the mould as a Martinez right-winger – although he would undoubtedly have to improve his end product at Goodison Park. At 25, however, there is still potential improvement to come.
CRISTIAN RODRIGUEZ (ATLETICO MADRID, URUGUAY)
The 29-year-old winger, who can play either side, has won over 80 caps for his national side. He has also played for some top European clubs, including Paris St-Germain, Porto, Benfica and Atletico Madrid.
But he has fallen out of favour in the Spanish capital and spent 2015 loaned out at Parma and Brazilian side Gremio. He possesses great speed and has a lovely touch on the ball, and may need a move elsewhere to reignite his career. The Blues could most certainly offer that.
CRISTIAN ZAPATA (AC MILAN, COLOMBIA)
Zapata made his name with Udinese in Serie A, establishing himself there over a six-year spell. That led to a season at Villarreal, before heading back to Italy.
Pacey, strong on the ball and with the ability to use either foot, the Colombian would fit the bill in terms of centre backs for Martinez. He has only ever been used fleetingly for Milan, although his 2014-15 season was cut short because of injury.
Still, his contract reportedly expires in 2016 and that could provide the Blues the opportunity to snatch a versatile defender for a low fee. He could prove in Chile how good he can be – and he may even do that on the left side of defence. He is predominately right-footed, but is comfortable on his left.