Who will reign supreme?

Copa America Young Player of the Tournament Power Ranking: Pellistri, Endrick…

Lionel Messi and Argentina are defending their Copa America crown as world champions this summer, but there are several young players at the tournament ready to steal the spotlight.

Tournament football is the perfect opportunity for a player to make a name for themselves with the world’s eyes on them, no matter their age or club reputation, and it’s no different for young ballers being taken along for the first time. Being contested throughout the United States, some of football’s youngest and brightest stars are strutting their stuff in the 16-team knockout tournament.

It’s a bit bizarre, is the Copa America. They appear to change the rules whenever they like, from when they actually host the tournament to what awards they give out. As a result, an official ‘Young Player of the Tournament’ has only been crowned three times (2007, 2011, 2015) and we’re not sure if they’ll bring it back this year.

With that in mind, we here at Planet Football are running our own unofficial power rankings, watching the tournament’s young ballers closely and ranking them after every matchday based on performance, importance to their team and overall clutch ability. Read on to find out who’s thriving as the quarter finals come to a close…

Disclaimer – since this is our own unofficial ranking, our own very official rules state that players must’ve been 22 or younger at the start of the tournament to be eligible.

10. Gio Reyna (USA) (-1)

It’s been a strange season and a strange tournament for young Reyna, who has struggled to find his stride at Borussia Dortmund, barely got a sniff on loan at Nottingham Forest and is now trying to claw his way back to form under Gregg Berhalter – whom he had a falling out with at the 2022 World Cup.

With all that, though, Berhalter still started Reyna all three of the United States’ group stage fixtures, playing just over an hour in a 2-0 win over Bolivia, but being substituted at half-time in a 2-1 defeat to Panama – a decision which only occurred due to an early red card shown to Tim Weah.

There is no denying Reyna’s lofty potential and obvious talent, but he was simply unable to show it in a massively underwhelming United States side, who underachieved as a whole and crashed out in the group stages. Dysfunctional and it’s affecting their star boy. Work to be done ahead of the 2026 World Cup.

9. Endrick (Brazil) (+1)

Endrick played 19 minutes from the bench as Brazil were held to a shock 0-0 draw by Costa Rica in matchday one, the teenager enduring a more humbling start to his first major tournament compared to how he burst onto the scene in the months prior.

With Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Raphinha all ahead of him, most of Endrick’s minutes are likely to come from the bench as the 17-year-old is carefully introduced to the world of senior football, meaning we’ll have to be a little bit more patient if we want to see those moments that make him such an outrageous talent.

Making the squad for the tournament despite being barely 17 is impressive enough, but a stop-start tournament for Endrick is probably a good reminder that he’s still got a long way to go. He started as Brazil were dumped out in the quarter-final. Better luck next time.

8. Dario Osorio (Chile) (=)

The 20-year-old winger is widely regarded as Chilean football’s crown jewel and for good reason if you’ve been following his scarily swift progress since moving into European football with FC Midtjylland.

Osorio has already had plenty of trust shown in him by Chile manager Ricardo Gareca, playing 45 minutes in matchday one and the entire 90 in matchday two. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to salvage anything in a disappointing campaign for Chile, who crashed out in the groups without a win.

We can’t put him any higher as a result, but the fact he was trusted so much so soon into his career is testament enough to his potential.

7. Warren Madrigal (Costa Rica) (=)

The first of two Costa Ricans in the power rankings currently, it appears the Central American country is on the cusp of somewhat of a golden generation and Madrigal is a key fixture in that.

He came off the bench as they held Brazil to that brilliant 0-0 draw in Group D, giving them a serious fighting chance of getting through despite Colombia’s fast start. Madrigal – a 19-year-old forward – scored his first senior international goal back in March to help Costa Rica qualify for the tournament and is undoubtedly talented enough to bag a few at the tournament.

His performance earned him a start in matchday two, but a difficult day at the office resulted in a 3-0 defeat against Colombia.

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6. Folarin Balogun (USA) (-2)

The second player representing the USMNT in the rankings right now, Balogun made a strong account of himself in his first major tournament since switching international allegiance, not counting the Nations League final.

He scored in each of their two opening games and immediately shown his superstar quality at the top end of the pitch, allowing the rest of the team to lean on him and his scoring abilities when needed.

It’s fair to say he’s the least of the USMNT’s concerns.

5. Jeyland Mitchell (Costa Rica) (+1)

Ahead of his Costa Rican colleague is Mitchell, the defender who put in a serious shift to keep the likes of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo frustrated as Costa Rica drew with the Selecao in matchday one.

We’re not taking his pre-tournament form into account with his ranking, but for some context, their 3-0 defeat to Colombia was the first time Costa Rica have conceded a goal with the 19-year-old on the pitch. He’s already become an integral part of the team and his bullish display in matchday one has undoubtedly been among the best individual performances at the tournament so far.

It’s a shame they were unable to recover from a big blip in matchday two, but Mitchell did himself no harm. He’s just signed for Feyenoord, too, so expect to hear more from him this season.

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4. Savio (Brazil) (-1)

Savio looked set to have to bide his time and impress in smaller spells throughout the tournament, with Brazil’s attack being so stacked.

But with the Selecao slumping to a goalless draw against a young Costa Rica outfit and looking out of ideas, Dorival Junior was tempted to turn to his younger prospect against Paraguay in matchday two.

A goal was the icing on the cake of an almighty display and it’s now going to be seriously difficult for the manager to justify dropping him back to the bench. But alas, he was dropped for the quarter-final and he struggled to make an impact in a scrappy game as a late substitute as Brazil crashed out of the quarter-final.

3. Julio Enciso (Paraguay) (+2)

Losing to Colombia in matchday one has put Paraguay in a rather challenging position with Brazil and Costa Rica still to face, but Enciso’s mercurial performance despite the defeat is more than enough to suggest that they could still reach the knockout stages.

Enciso is everything your dad hates in a player and that’s exactly what makes him so brilliant. A complete maverick, he can frustrate the life out of you (and his own teammates, judging by the words his captain had with him against Colombia) and he might not always be the most defensively sound, but in terms of pure talent and magic, he’s the full package.

The Brighton forward, just 20, screams superstar and left his mark on the tournament in the group stages alone.

2. Kendry Paez (Ecuador) (=)

The youngest player at the tournament, Paez became the second youngest scorer in the history of the tournament when he tucked away a penalty against Jamaica in a Player of the Match-worthy showing.

Paez – who is set to join Chelsea in 2025 –  was even unbothered enough to hit Cole Palmer’s signature ‘cold’ celebration after bagging from the spot, a further showing of his credentials and rather outrageous ability for his age. It’s frightening how good he already is and how good he can become, and Ecuador know that, which is why they’re not afraid of relying on him already.

This kid is an absolute superstar. Ecuador took Argentina all the way to a penalty shootout before crashing out in the final, and Paez deserves his flowers for his role in an impressive run.

1. Facundo Pellistri (Uruguay) (=)

Despite playing just nine times in the Premier League for Manchester United last season before being shipped out on loan again, Pellistri is having a brilliant Copa America and is playing out of his skin for Uruguay once again.

Pellistri hasn’t been afraid to take responsibility for his country and has started every single game on the way to the semi-final for Marcelo Bielsa, weighing in with a goal and an assist and proving influential in possession on the whole with the way he wriggles past players. He’s a brilliant, naturally right-sided talent.

The irony is that if he wasn’t already a Manchester United player, he’s exactly the type of winger they’d be thinking about signing this summer, given his performances thus far. A starboy simply waiting for his big break.