South America’s premier youth tournament returned for the first time in four years, showcasing some of the finest young prospects on the continent.
Brazil claimed their 12th Sudamericano U20 title thanks to a 2-0 win over closest rivals Uruguay in the final game of the tournament hosted in Colombia.
Despite being the most successful nation in the 69-year history of the competition, it was the Seleçao’s first triumph since Neymar inspired them to victory back in 2011.
Brazil were worthy winners. Ramon Menezes’ side were the only unbeaten team, scoring 19 goals, conceding 4 and taking 23 points from a possible 27. What’s more, they outperformed their underlying numbers, given that their xG was 11.39 and their xG against was 9.6.
The tournament also offered a glimpse at some of the most exciting talents in South America and was essential viewing for scouts around the globe. The likes of Lautaro Martínez, Edinson Cavani and Arturo Vidal, to name but a few, have all announced themselves in previous editions and plenty more followed in their footsteps.
The importance of scouting youth tournaments such as the Sudamericano is vital for any modern club. The ability to find talents from across the globe at an increasingly earlier age can give your club a competitive advantage on the field, while also being a potential source of future revenue if they prove to be a success.
One of the notable trends from the tournament was how a number of clubs got their business done before the competition had started.
While most players on display are still far from household names, teams are wary of losing out or paying over the odds for a prospect following a strong performance at a widely viewed tournament like the Sudamericano.
As such, the need to monitor a whole range of youth tournaments, more than 30 of which are accessible via Wyscout’s Exclusive Youth Competition pack, has never been greater.
“Recruitment teams can now efficiently develop long lists of the most promising youth players in the world, to make smarter decisions and maximize their academy development objectives.”
A prime example would be Venezuela’s midfield leader Telasco Segovia. The 19-year-old was the heartbeat of the Vinotinto side, making more passes (300) and contesting more duels (198) than any of his teammates, while also ranking in the top five for progressive runs in the whole tournament and second for deep completions.
However, his signature was wrapped up prior to the Sudamericano following his displays at the Maurice Revello tournament in Toulon last year. Segovia scored two goals and led Venezuela to the final, before being named as the best player at the tournament and promptly being snapped up by Sampdoria.
Argentinian duo Facundo Buonanotte and Máximo Perrone were signed by Brighton and Manchester City respectively before the Sudamericano as well. Buonanotte, who was unfortunately injured in the first game, had previously also starred at the 2022 Toulon tournament, while Perrone had first caught the eye at the Montaigu tournament in 2019.
Strong displays at youth level for club and country also saw Chelsea sign Andrey Santos and Zenit capture Robert Renan before the competition began.
Midfield general Andrey displayed his all-round game to finish as joint-top scorer with 6 goals, while Renan marshalled the meanest defence in the competition and also helped construct from deep with the second highest number of passes to the final third (79) of any player. Both were star performers for Brazil and will have no doubt seen their price skyrocket.
There were even those whose pre-tournament transfers meant they didn’t receive permission to play in Colombia. Uruguayan center back Alan Matturro, a finalist at the 2022 COTIF tournament, was signed by Genoa and unable to make the journey, as was Colombian striker Jhon Durán following his move to Aston Villa.
Nevertheless, there were also a number of players whose performances during the tournament earned them a move, once again showing the benefits of scouting the Sudamericano.
Arguably the biggest success story was Gustavo Puerta. The Colombia captain impressed with his all-action midfield displays and helped los Cafateros to a third place finish on home soil.
Puerta’s 470 passes were more than any other player in the competition, as were his 80 passes to the final third, while he also ranked in the top five for progressive passes (70) and joint-top for assists (2). A threat from range thanks to his fearsome shooting ability, Puerta capped a fantastic campaign with two unstoppable driven goals against Brazil and Paraguay.
Puerta’s performances at the Sudamericano - and previously at Toulon - convinced Bayer Leverkusen to sign the all-round midfielder straight from second division side Bogotá FC.
With the difficulties of monitoring less accessible lower leagues and youth competitions, Puerta provides the perfect case study of the benefits of Wyscout’s video scouting.
Puerta wasn’t the only one who earned a move mid-tournament. His teammate Daniel Luna was signed on loan by Real Mallorca, while Paraguay’s Diego González convinced Lazio to bring him to Italy from the Mexican Liga de Expansión.
While many clubs seized the opportunity to act before or during the tournament, there remain plenty of exciting available prospects who bolstered their burgeoning reputations.
Uruguay captain Fabricio Díaz, who scored 5 goals from midfield, and Brazilian striker Vitor Roque, joint-top scorer with 6, arrived at the tournament with big reputations and underlined their bright futures.
Despite going out in the first group stage, Darío Osorio also showed why he is highly sought after. The 19-year-old Chilean winger had previously impressed at the Más Que Una Pasión and Pinatar tournaments - both available with the Exclusive Youth Competition pack - and assisted both of Chile’s goals in the tournament.
Perhaps the revelation of the Sudamericano was Uruguay’s spritely forward Luciano Rodríguez. Capable of playing anywhere across the front three, Rodríguez had pace, directness and trickery, as well as a fearsome shot from range, demonstrated by the fact that four of his five goals came from outside of the box.
No player averaged more shots per 90 (3.67) than Rodríguez and he also hit the woodwork three times. The fearless Uruguayan also ranked second for dribbles (65), suffered the most fouls (30) and only Vitor Roque had more touches in the box than his 26.
This year’s Sudamericano highlighted not only the depth of talent across South America but also the need to move quickly when looking to recruit players and the importance of being across a wide range of international youth tournaments around the world.
Given that Wyscout’s video scouting removes geographical barriers, as well as saving time and money, there’s no longer any excuse for falling behind the curve.