The 44th edition of the Copa America commences on the 11th June as hosts Chile take on Ecuador. It will run for just over 3 weeks and 12 teams will compete for the prestigious competition competed for by the leading South American countries. 10 members of the CONMEBOL will feature as well as 2 other teams from CONCACAF, Mexico and Jamaica. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia will be the early favourites and will have some of the world’s best centre forwards amongst their artillery but which forward will be a contender to scoop the golden boot award?
Neymar – Barcelona – Brazil – 13/2: The Brazilian No.10 carries the burden of his nation’s expectations and he almost carried Brazil to the 2014 World Cup but a back injury ruled him out of the knockout stages and Brazil subsequently struggled. He’ll be one of the favourites alongside his fellow Barcelona strike partner, Lionel Messi for the golden boot.
Neymar scored 37 goals in all competitions for Barcelona this season which marks another impressive display in Europe and a lot will rely on whether Brazil’s midfielders can provide him the service he needs to deliver. His skills and dribbling ability will be on show and he’ll be looking to add to his 43 goals for Brazil and close down on the record held by Pele (77).
Radamel Falcao – Monaco – Colombia – 14/1: He was highly regarded as one of the world’s best strikers but a season long loan at Manchester United was his most disappointing season in professional football. He scored just 4 league goals for United and is likely to return to Monaco this summer but his future has been linked away from the French club with Juventus keen suitors.
Regardless of his season in domestic football, Falcao is still prolific for his national side where he has scored 24 goals in 55 matches. He missed the 2014 World Cup through an ACL injury and will be desperate to prove his worth to Colombia on his return to the biggest of international stages. Falcao will be hoping for better success at the Copa America having missed the 2007 tournament through injury and then missing a penalty against Peru at the 2011 tournament where they were eliminated in extra time.
Sergio Aguero – Manchester City – Argentina – 9/1: Aguero has always been behind the shadow of Lionel Messi but he has never let that affect him for Argentina. Argentina open their campaign at the Copa America against Paraguay and Aguero will be looking to make his mark on the golden boot award early on in the tournament.
Aguero scored 31 goals for Manchester City in the Premier League and Champions League this season and will be looking to carry his scintillating form into June/July. Providing he steers clear of injury which has haunted him at times in his career, Aguero will be right up there challenging for the award.
Lionel Messi – Barcelona – Argentina – 10/3: The world’s greatest footballer will look to seal another Copa America win for Argentina and Messi could put one hand on the golden boot award by the end of the group stages if they perform from the off. Argentina are in Group B with current reigning champions, Uruguay as well as Paraguay and Jamaica. Convincing wins over Paraguay and Jamaica look a formality and could see Messi wrack up a few goals in the process.
Messi hasn’t been shy in front of goal this season for Barcelona as he’s notched 53 goals in all competitions this season. Let’s not forget he didn’t particularly hit his usual heights at the 2014 World Cup but still done enough to win the golden ball. As long as that left foot turns up in Chile, Messi at 10/3 seems to be the favourable bet.
Edinson Cavani – PSG – Uruguay – 14/1: Uruguay will be looking for Cavani to lead the line and help them score the goals to successfully defend their 2011 Copa America crown. They’ll be without the influential Luis Suarez which has made proceedings a lot tougher for Cavani and Co. It is a contrasting position for the PSG forward who has largely been used to accommodate Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the focal point of the attack so Cavani may thrive on being the main man himself in Chile.
Despite being used out wide in periods, Cavani still fired in 28 goals this season for PSG and may even see the Copa America as a shop window to try and authorise a transfer out of the French capital. However, many pundits doubt his ability in the big games and he scores the majority of his goals against the minnows so Cavani may have to perform well against Paraguay and Jamaica in Group B to stand any chance of being crowned with the golden boot.