An alternative Copa America squad for Argentina coach Tata Martino
When Argentina coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino announced his Copa America squad, he could not please everyone. A top football nation like theirs means even a preliminary 30-man roster sees someone with real talent will be omitted.
Coral make La Albiceleste 2/1 favourites to end their wait for a major tournament win in Chile this summer, but our experts have put their heads together and selected an alternative squad featuring some emerging and familiar names.
Sergio Romero has been Argentina’s number one for some time, but Crystal Palace keeper Julian Speroni has never got so much of a look-in despite regular Premier League football for the second successive season.
Our editor always felt Romero’s predecessor Juan Pablo Carrizo was harshly dropped from contention and caught the eye when selected by Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini for the Nerazzurri’s Europa League matches. Real Sociedad loanee Geronimo Rulli missed the cut, but we’ve been impressed with his performances under David Moyes.
There’s a Tyne and Wear presence in our alternative rearguard with under-fire Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini joined by Sunderland’s Santiago Vergini. Tottenham centre back Federico Fazio, meanwhile, just missed out on Tata Martino’s selection.
Since the retirement of Juan Pablo Sorin, left back has been a real problem berth for La Albiceleste. Atletico Madrid loanee Cristian Ansaldi didn’t get on the roster, but there may be a future gem in Sporting Lisbon starlet Jonathan Silva.
Teenage talent Emmanuel Mammana of River Plate has been linked with Atleti, coached by Argentina legend Diego Simeone, and we thought Martino may have included the youngster, but didn’t. Completing our defensive options are Fiorentina couple Jose Maria Basanta, discarded shortly after the World Cup, and the always overlooked Gonzalo Javier Rodriguez.
In midfield, we’ve chosen a quartet of players that don’t get the recognition they deserve, and heading those is the inspirational Jonas Gutierrez, who has return to action with Newcastle after winning his battle with cancer.
His utility, capable of playing centrally or down the left flank, is also an underrated asset. To act as engine room anchorman, there’s a trio of tasty tacklers. West Bromwich Albion’s Claudio Yacob has looked rejuvenated under Tony Pulis, while Celta Vigo counterpart Augusto Fernandez adds a little more craft in that area.
Fabian Rinaudo has paid the price for staying loyal to Catania, despite their relegation from Serie A, but we’re happy to hold him in reserve behind our other options.
In selecting our wingers, we’ve literally included players from across Europe. Starting on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, Eduardo Salvio helped Benfica retain their Primeira Liga title. Nine goals and 10 assists from the player nicknamed Toto means Martino leaving him out altogether caught us by surprise.
Moving across the Iberia peninsula to Spain and La Liga, Valencia’s Pablo Piatti has aided a young Los Che side reach the cusp of a Champions League return. All the Bats need to do is match the result Sevilla record on the final day to confirm a top four finish.
In Italy’s Serie A, Roma talent Juan Iturbe is our wildcard pick, having switched international allegiance back from Paraguay. On the banks of the Bosporus, Jose Sosa has added something extra to Slaven Bilic’s Besiktas.
Youth and Ulloa up front
There’s a real emphasis on up-and-coming talent in attack. These names would, perhaps, in any other era get into Martino’s plans, but have Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero ahead of them.
Villarreal frontman Luciano Vietto has hit 20 goals this term, while prized Palermo asset Paulo Dybala is one 13 and 10 assists, resulting in links to Juventus and Premier League heavyweights. Inter Milan marksman Mauro Icardi is the most glaring omission after one shy of 25 in all competitions.
Leicester City’s Leonardo Ulloa is something of an elder statesman at 28, compared to these others, who are six and seven years his junior. Getting 10 Premier League strikes has helped the former Brighton and Hove Albion attacker keep the Foxes in the top flight when they looked dead and buried.