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Copa America Best Player: Messi, Valverde, Diaz, Vinicius – who will take home the award?

The Copa America is just around the corner and we have picked out our contenders for the Golden Ball award.

Vinicius Jr

South America is known for producing some of football’s finest ever players and the Copa America will see some of the best current stars go head-to-head.

The 2024 tournament kicks off in a matter of days, with favourites Argentina and Brazil boasting squads packed with brilliant players.

But that is not where the talent ends, with some of Europe’s finest performers last season also representing their respective nations in the United States.

Read on as we pick out the contenders to take home the prize of the Copa America 2024’s Golden Ball – the award handed to the best player at the tournament.

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

There can only be one place to start, with Lionel Messi surely still capable of producing more heroics for Argentina.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or has inspired La Albiceleste to two conseucitve tournament wins at the 2021 Copa America and then the 2022 World Cup.

Despite since leaving European football in favour of a switch to Inter Miami, the 36-year-old still skippers Lionel Scaloni’s team and will play a key role out in the USA.

If Argentina are to complete a third successive triumph, you can be sure their superstar forward will be heavily involved.

Vinicius Jr (Brazil)

After winning the Champions League and LaLiga with Real Madrid last season, glory in the Copa America with Brazil may just clinch the Ballon d’Or for Vinicius Jr.

That is unlikely to be the winger’s priority at the tournament but he undoubtedly has the Selecao’s hopes pinned on his shoulders.

Poster boy in the past Neymar is out of the tournament with injury, meaning the 25-year-old will be Tite’s talisman in attack.

And with 35 goals involvements for Los Blancos last season, it is hard to think of another player who comes into the tournament in better form.

Luis Diaz (Colombia)

Colombia are backed to surprise a few at the Copa America and Liverpool forward Luis Diaz has firmly established himself as his country’s main man.

Los Cafeteros are on a 23-match unbeaten stretching back to March 2022 and while Diaz’s five goals during that run hardly jump out of the page, there is little doubt who Colombia fans are expecting to produce when it matters.

He scored 13 goals for the Reds last seasomn during a season disrupted by the trauma of his father being kidnapped back in his home country.

That incident undoubtedly brought supporters together in support and if Colombia reach the semi-finals, the Anfield hero could well have an outside chance.

Federico Valverde (Uruguay)

Uruguay are another who will be feeling optimistic and of all their top stars, midfielder Federico Valverde could be the most important for Marcelo Bielsa.

The Real Madrid ace is also a Champions League winner this season and has risen to become one of world football’s top midfielders during his time at the Santiago Bernanbeu.

He is Uruguay’s captain, embodying their energetic approach with his ability to perform all facets of the game superbly.

Expect him to be at the heart of defence and attack for the Celeste, while his ability to score a stunner is another part of his artillery to watch out for.

Best of the rest

Other Brazilian and Argentinian stars to watch out for include Lautaro Martinez, Rodrygo and Julian Alvarez.

Meanwhile, goalkeepers rarely win the award but Emiliano Martinez and Alisson Becker’s contributions for club and country should not be underestimated.

Of the outsiders, Christian Pulisic will be leading from the front for hosts USA, while Alphonso Davies will be tasked with inspiring Canada and Jamaica’s Leon Bailey comes in off the back of a brilliant season for Aston Villa.

Prediction

The Golden Ball award has been handed to a player from the triumphant nation in six of the last seven Copa America tournament and it would be no surprise to see that trend followed again.

It appears to be a toss up between Argentina and Brazil for the crown, so it is hard to look past either Messi or Vinicius.

Argentina have become a tournament-winning machine and that’s why we’re backing Messi take home his third Golden Ball.

Picture of Cian Cheesbrough

Cian Cheesbrough

Cian is a sports journalist with experience writing for national title, including LiveScore, MailOnline, Eurosport and Sky Sports. He has covered a number of key events during his time in the industry, including from the press box at live Champions League fixtures.

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