Profile: Piero Hincapie, the Copa America breakout star interesting Celtic

By Euan Davidson

June 25, 2021

The Copa America, in and of itself, was creating headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons, but try telling Piero Hincapie it wasn’t worth doing.

The tournament, blighted by Covid-19 and South American politics, nearly didn’t go ahead. Firstly, it was meant to be hosted in Colombia and Argentina. Then, the Covid situation made it untenable to host in either country. Yet, it was moved to Brazil, where there have been over 18 million cases this year alone [WHO]. That, and the threat of a boycott due to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, threatened the Copa America’s immediate future.

Yet, it’s happening. There’s a handy explainer of the situation from Marca, if you’re interested.

What does any of this have to do with Celtic? Well, according to Mundo Deportivo, we’ve actually got scouts watching the tournament. And they’ve spotted Piero Hincapie, a 19-year-old Ecaudor international who is impressing European giants [Daily Record]. Despite his team conceding 5 goals thus far, Hincapie has piqued the interest of PSG, AC Milan and Bayern Munich, as well as Celtic [Mundo Deportivo].

The left-footed centre back plays for Talleres de Córdoba in Argentina, and reports suggest that the side are looking for a hefty £8.6m [Mundo Deportivo]. Talleres, who sit 4th in the Argentine league’s Division B, behind Boca Juniors, only own half of his playing rights.

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So far, so complicated.

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While Hincapie is a new name for European football fans, he’s certainly well-regarded in South America. In fact, there seems to be little surprise that the 19-year-old is distinguishing himself at the Copa America.

The Talleres defender shone in Argentina’s Copa de La Liga. In a round-up of the competition’s best young talents, World Football Index wrote:

“Having joined from Independiente del Valle last August, the tall, elegant centre back stepped up to the fill the gap left by Facundo Medina.

“A left-footed ball-playing defender, Hincapie impressed with his ability to build from the back and was fourth highest for successful passes and fifth highest for progressive passes in the division.

“The 21-year-old also displayed his defensive chops with no player blocking more shots (11) than him.”

Piero Hincapie, Ecuador starlet / (Photo by Martin Rose – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

A touch over 6ft [Transfermarkt], Hincapie is devastatingly quick, and has little problem moving the ball. Either with a pass or a lung-busting run, the Ecuadorian likes to play his way out of danger.

He’s also more than adept at an athletic block or interception. With superb reading of the game and the propensity to launch attacks from defence, he seems a fitting replacement for Kristoffer Ajer in the Celtic defence. Where Ajer is more of a battering ram, though, Hincapie likes to beat players with flair. Whoever lands him will endure some heart-in-mouth moments, that’s for sure.

There are barriers, of course. And if PSG or Bayern come in for him, we can look back on these stories and laugh. Nonetheless, if Celtic are genuinely in with a shot of landing the Ecuador international, it’d be a real statement of intent from the club.

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