The stage is set...

5 rising ballers you must keep an eye on at the 2024 Copa America this summer

Lionel Messi and Argentina’s Copa America title defence is about to get underway, but several exciting rising ballers could steal the headlines this summer in the United States.

While all the eyes are on the tournament’s biggest and flashiest names to deliver on the big occasion, this year’s Copa America is set to welcome a number of incredibly exciting young talents to the field, all with a point to prove and a story to begin writing.

Some you might’ve heard of, others not, we’ve rounded up five of the brightest young stars we believe you need to be keeping an eye on throughout the tournament.

When you’re good enough, you’re old enough and this group of players more than ready to defy expectations despite their age.

Kendry Paez

Born in 2007 (!) Paez only turned 17 in May, but as the crown jewel of Ecuadorian football, he’s already been selected by the senior national team and the hope is that he can inspire them out of a challenging group.

An advanced midfielder, Paez has already been capped eight times for the senior team, scoring once, and possesses wicked control with the ball at his feet, weaving through gaps you didn’t even know existed.

Chelsea will be incredibly thankful that he’s already agreed to join them in 2025, because a summer of watching him run rings around experienced defenders is going to have all big clubs watching him extremely closely.

Santiago Gimenez

When you’ve got absolute freaks of nature such as Paez breaking through at barely 17, it makes someone like Gimenez sound old at just 23, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Heading into his first tournament with Mexico’s senior team after missing out on the 2022 World Cup squad, the striker not only heads to the States with a point to prove, but off the back of an outrageously prolific season for Feyenoord.

Gimenez finished up with 26 goals and eight assists from 41 games in all competitions, meaning that in each of his two seasons in European football, he’s fired in 20+ goals with ease.

Highlights this season included a brace in the Champions League against Lazio, a hat-trick against Ajax and another hat-trick against Excelsior.

With plenty of top clubs desperately searching for a striker this summer, a few goals at the Copa America could make him hot property.

READ NEXT: Copa America 2024: Every squad announced so far including USMNT, Argentina, Brazil…

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every host city at the 2024 Copa America?

Dario Osorio

Capped eight times already for Chile, 20-year-old Osorio took a brave step in the summer of 2023 when he swapped his home country for Norway to sign for Midtjylland.

Fortune favours the brave and Osorio is proving it. He’s looked razor sharp for his new club this season, despite still needing to settle into a completely new lifestyle at such a young age, playing with a supreme confidence that allows him to progress the ball mercilessly with neat dribbling and killer passes.

A winger by trade, he won’t fly under the radar much longer. We’re backing him to explode in his second season in Europe, but before that, he could prove to be Chile’s secret lynchpin.


The secret is out. We cannot wait to watch Endrick at his first major tournament for Brazil. The proof is in the pudding with this kid – he’s an anomaly. Endrick and Harry Kane.

READ: 9 players you wont believe Endrick has already won more trophies than


Jhon Duran

Duran isn’t a new face at this point, having signed for Aston Villa in January 2023, but he’s been integrated into the side extremely carefully and hasn’t needed to step up and carry Unai Emery’s side with Ollie Watkins doing the heavy lifting right now.

Make no mistake, though, the Colombian forward is the truth. Five goals from 23 Premier League appearances in 2023-24 doesn’t jump off the page, but he actually possessed the best minutes per goal return in the division, averaging a strike every 92.4 minutes, and only actually started three times.

Watching the 20-year-old strut his stuff is one hell of an experience. A bundle of energy, technical ability and scoring prowess, a run of games for Colombia might just be the key to him exploding this summer.

He might not have a way in over Watkins at Villa, but there’s no reason why he can’t lead the line elsewhere.