With the Copa America getting set to start in less than 24 hours, let’s take a look at a team composed of the best South American players plying their trade in the Premier League.
In the past couple of years, Allison has proved why he is regarded as one of the world’s top goalkeepers, alongside the likes of David De Gea and Jan Oblak. Liverpool won this year’s Champions League Final largely thanks to his multiple saves, keeping out the likes of Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, and Christian Eriksen. If Brazil are to win the Copa America, Alison has to prove big between the sticks, as he has in his time in Merseyside.
The Argentine hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons with Manchester City. The likes of John Stones, Vincent Kompany, and Aymeric Laporte have all been deployed in the back more often by Pep Guardiola. Although he was out of favor at club level, he will surely get a starting nod for Argentina, and his experience at the top level will be critical in the Albiceleste’s quest to become champions of South America.
Sanchez is a rock at the back, and amidst stiff competition by Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld at club level, has shown himself to be reliable in defense through his physical attributes. Quick, solid, and ferocious at the tackle, Sanchez is without a doubt one of the first names in the Colombia team sheet.
Balbuena was a largely unknown figure by most Premier League fans when he first signed last season but has proved his worth at West Ham. The Paraguayan earned 5 clean sheets, won half of his tackles, made 53 interceptions and won most of his aerial and ground battles. Look for him to lead Paraguay from the back this summer.
In what proved to be his last season for the Red Devils, age got the better of the United skipper, but he does leave Manchester with a lasting legacy. The Ecuadorian joined United in 2009, as an attack-minded winger and will leave the club as a dependable full back who sacrificed his best position for the good of the club. Valencia’s trademark marauding runs from the right led to many memorable moments in red, and he leaves Old Trafford having won 2 Premier League trophies, 1 Europa League, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, and 3 Community Shields. A staple for the Ecuador National Team at 2 World Cups, this will be Valencia’s last international tournament.
Fernandinho is surely the first name in Pep Guardiola’s team sheet at Man City. He’s been irreplaceable in midfield for the Cityzens and still is one of the world’s best holding midfielders alongside Casemiro and S Busquets. His tough tackling play cuts out most attacks, and his passing and build up play starts many plays for the citizens as well. Brazil are lucky to have two of the worlds best holding midfielders at their disposal, and Manchester City will struggle to replace him once he leaves the club.
Don’t let the diminutive Uruguayan’s stature fool you, Torreira is a hard-nosed midfielder who loves a good tackle. His best moment last season did, however, arrive during the North London Derby, with his goal securing a famous victory for Arsenal. His dirty work in the Uruguay midfield will be complemented by the playmaking of Nicolas Lodeiro and Rodrigo Bentacur, with La Celeste looking to win their first Copa America since 2011.
The Paraguayan joined from Atlanta United last January on transfer deadline day, and his impact was felt from the get-go. Almiron is a creative player, with his range of passing good enough to dictate the play in midfield. He’s a solid dribbler as well, and alongside Balbuena and an aging Oscar Cardozo, is one of Paraguay’s leading men at the tournament.
When the Brazilian joined Everton from Watford last summer, many questioned whether he’d be a one-season wonder. His first year at Vicarage Road was a massive success, and Richarlison followed that up with another solid season at Goodison. He scored 13 goals whilst playing multiple positions in Everton’s attack, and perhaps his best position is at center forward, just behind the main striker. Whether as a starter or coming off the bench, look for him to make a splash in Brazil’s attack this summer.
There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about Aguero. The Argentine is a world-class goal scorer and has once again led the line in City’s attack as they managed to double up on their Premier League title. He hasn’t enjoyed the best of times with Argentina however, finishing as a runner up in the 2014 World Cup, and the past two Copa America’s in 2015 and 2016. With a squad full of talent, and a certain Lionel Messi alongside him, this will surely be Aguero and Argentina’s best chance to write their names in the history books.
The flashy Brazilian completes this starting lineup fresh off the heels of winning his first Champions League medal. Firmino is a workhorse in the attack and is known to drop back deep to help create attacking plays as much as his no-look tap-ins. He’s long battled with Gabriel Jesus for the starting spot at international level, and he is surely another piece of the puzzle in Brazil’s star-studded attacking lineup.
Just like Allison, Ederson is one of the worlds best goalkeepers and his ability to play the ball with his feet give him the edge over most keepers. He’s enjoyed 2 Premier League titles in as many seasons and is unlucky to miss out on a starting berth.
Barca fans might’ve looked at Yerry Mina as a signing from left field, but his World Cup heroics in 2018 for Colombia turned him to an overnight sensation. As much as he gets overlooked at club level, Mina will look to partner up with Davinson Sanchez at the heart of Colombia’s backline.
An underrated defensive midfielder, Lerma has proved astounding for Bournemouth. The Cherries have impressed during their short time at England’s top flight, and while the likes of Brooks, Fraser, and Wilson grab the headlines, Lerma continues to quietly do the dirty work in the midfield. His goal vs Crystal Palace last season was a thing of beauty.
The Premier league is crazy. The amount of money the league generates from its TV rights deal means teams like Watford can afford to sign top quality players from the world’s best sides. Pereyra joined Watford from Juventus in 2016, and his talents have been on full display for the Hornets. Pereyra is a shoo-in for Watford but will find playing time hard to come by competing against the likes of Angel Di Maria and Giovani Lo Celso.
Sanchez has not had the best of times since leaving Arsenal for Manchester United. He’s failed to live up to his price tag and looks a shadow of his former self. He remains as important as ever for Chile, however, and if they are to repeat on their successes of 2015 and 2016, Chile must be able to rely on the likes of Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz, and Sanchez of course.
Jesus is a great option to have off the bench, with his speed and finishing getting the better of tired legs. The 22-year-old did start all of Brazil’s games at last year’s World Cup, and he’ll look to start ahead of Firmino, Richarlison, and David Neres this time around as well.
Rondon is simply Venezuela’s best hope at getting anything from the Copa America. The Newcastle striker is a lethal header of the ball and brings experience to the squad alongside captain Tomas Rincon. On paper, a forward partnership with Josef Martinez will frighten many South American defenders. Venezuelans everywhere will fancy their chances against Peru and Bolivia with those three in the starting lineup.