A dynamic, box-to-box midfielder with a penchant for long-range screamers, Freddy Guarin has, after a modest first couple of seasons in Portugal, become a vital cog in Porto's much-lauded squad. He began his career with Envigado in his native Colombia, before loan spells at Boca Juniors and St. Etienne. Despite joining the French outfit on a permanent basis in 2007, his development was somewhat stunted, and some eyebrows were raised in Porto when Guarin was acquired on a four-year deal, with the now-Portuguese international Paulo Machado heading in the opposite direction.
With Raul Meireles and Lucho Gonzalez ahead of him in the midfield pecking order, Guarin was restricted to substitute cameos in his debut season at the Dragao. It was a similar story in 2009/10, though the Colombian did finish the campaign in outstanding form; capped by the opening goal in the Taca de Portugal final, his sixth in as many matches.
The departure of Meireles would surely have filled Guarin with hopes of a first-team spot, but with the arrival of Joao Moutinho and his instant chemistry with Fernando Belluschi, the Colombian was once again a frustrated observer, not starting a match until mid-October. However, Porto's punishing fixture list presented Guarin with an opportunity, which he seized with both hands. As in 2009/10, his form improved as the season went deeper, particularly in the Europa League, where he contributed a succession of vital goals - against Sevilla, CSKA Moscow, and Villarreal. It was also Guarin who opened the scoring at the Estadio da Luz, where Porto defeated eternal rivals Benfica to seal the Liga title.
Now a firm fan favourite, Guarin's stock has never been higher, at club or international level.
Name: Freddy Guarin
Position: Central midfielder
Club team: FC Porto (Portugal, Primeira Liga)
Chances Copa America increases transfer interest: Pretty good, as Guarin is on plenty of radars already.
Role with team: Hustle and bustle in the centre of a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1.