Sergio Aguero (Argentina)
Argentina’s embarrassment of attacking riches throughout the last decade has not been sufficient to bring them a trophy at senior level. Lionel Messi, 32 later this month, is running out of time to scoop an international honour, while Aguero is similarly closer to the end of his career than the start of it.
Despite having scored 39 goals for his country – only Messi and Gabriel Batistuta have managed more – Aguero has not always been able to replicate his Manchester City form on the international stage. Firing Argentina to glory this summer would be the perfect way to change that.
Lucas Torreira (Uruguay)
In Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde, Uruguay have two young midfielders who are technically gifted, comfortable in possession and on the books of two of Europe’s biggest clubs (Juventus and Real Madrid respectively).
Torreira, 23, is slightly older than his two colleagues, and he is a very different kind of midfielder too. A gritty, tough-tackling operator more in the traditional Uruguayan role, the Arsenal man is adept at breaking up play and distributing the ball with a minimum of fuss. Expect Oscar Tabarez to make him a key part of his team.
Alisson Becker (Brazil)
The Premier League’s two best goalkeepers are Brazilian, and both have been named in the Selecao’s squad for the Copa America on home soil. There was little to choose between Ederson and Alisson in England’s top flight this term, but the No.1 jersey at national team level still belongs to the latter.
Brazil have won every previous edition of this tournament when they have been hosts, so the pressure is on Tite and his players. Alisson has shown that he can handle such situations at club level, and he will be a major asset for his country over the next few weeks. How Argentina, still calling upon Sergio Romero – a competent back-up for Manchester United but not a world-class goalkeeper – must wish they could match their rivals’ quality between the sticks.
Salomon Rondon (Venezuela)
Venezuela are a coming force in South American football, and there is genuine optimism in the country – a commodity in short supply given the political situation – that Rafael Dudamel can lead the side to the 2022 World Cup.
Several members of their Copa America squad helped Venezuela reach the final of the Under-20 World Cup in 2017, including the prodigiously talented goalkeeper, Wuilker Farínez. At the other end of the field it is Newcastle frontman Rondon who will be relied upon for goals.
Davinson Sanchez (Colombia)
Colombia, now managed by Carlos Queiroz after Jose Pekerman brought his six-year tenure to an end after the 2018 World Cup, are a team in transition. Stalwarts Radamel Falcao, David Ospina and Juan Cuadrado will all be present in Brazil, but the vast majority of Queiroz’s squad members are in their 20s.
The 23-year-old Sanchez will be partnered at the back by Yerry Mina, who is nine months senior. The Tottenham man has significant top-level experience despite his age, so Colombia will look to him to lead by example in central defence.
Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Sanchez has had a miserable 18 months at Manchester United, but he now has the chance to put his club woes to the back of his mind by representing Chile at the Copa America. La Roja won the tournament in both 2015 and 2016, but their failure to qualify for last summer’s World Cup marked the end of an era.
Having said that, Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Mauricio Isla, Gonzalo Jara, Eduardo Vargas and Gary Medel are all still around. Chile will hope the forward can recapture his Arsenal form in Brazil this summer.
Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
Valencia will not play another game for Manchester United, who have confirmed that he will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the month. For the time being, though, he remains on the books at Old Trafford, even if he will be fully focused on all things Ecuador for as long as his nation is still in the Copa America.
Closing in on 100 caps, Valencia is one of the most experienced internationals participating in this tournament. He tends to be used further forward by Ecuador despite his conversion into a full-back at club level, and the former Wigan Athletic man will have a big role to play if Hernan Dario Gomez’s side are to reach the quarter-finals.
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