Coral’s Premier League era Argentina icons XI
There have been some great footballers from Argentina that have plied their trade in the Premier League and, with Lionel Messi a sensational 6/1 with Coral to join Chelsea in 2015, our football experts started to think about other names from that country.
Could we make an all-star Argentine XI (with subs) of Premier League players past and present? You bet! Here’s our tasty team:
Goalkeeper: Julian Speroni
It’s a mystery how long-serving Crystal Palace stopper Speroni has never received international recognition. Voted Player of the Year for an unparalleled fourth time at Selhurst Park last term, he remains the Eagles’ best defensive player, though new boss Alan Pardew is 13/8 to endure relegation in south London.
Right back: Pablo Zabaleta
Manchester City are represented strongly in our Argentina all-star rearguard, with two-time Premier League winner Zabaleta a lock for inclusion. He has arguably been, alongside the Everton and the Republic of Ireland’s Seamus Coleman, the best right back in the division in recent years.
Centre back: Martin Demichelis
Eyebrows were raised when Etihad manager Manuel Pellegrini purchased faithful retainer Demichelis in the summer of 2013, but he went on to form a Premier League-winning centre back pairing with Vincent Kompany. City are 7/4 second-favourites to retain their title this term.
Centre back: Fabricio Coloccini
You have to admire anyone who endures relegation and then puts it right by helping Newcastle United secure immediate promotion back to the Premier League. Coloccini did just that in the heart of defence, and his popularity on Tyneside only cements his spot in our all-star Argentine XI.
Left back: Gabriel Heinze
Who can forget left-footer and former Manchester United player Heinze? A decade on from when he signed for the Red Devils, they purchased Marcos Rojo, but we grew nostalgic as soon as this idea came to us. Heinze won the 2006/07 Premier League, an honour his successor is yet to achieve.
Central midfield: Juan Sebastian Veron
So, he may have been a bit of a flop in England, but Veron does have a Premier League winners medal from 2002/03 when he was at United. On Chelsea’s books thereafter, he spent most of that time on loan in Italy with Inter Milan. If you want an Argentina engine room icon, look no further than Veron.
Defensive midfield: Javier Mascherano
Few anchormen can boast they are as strong in the tackle as former Liverpool midfield destroyer Mascherano. An instant Anfield hit (quite literally for opposition players), he started Premier League life with West Ham United with another Argentine, but we’ll come on to him. What Brendan Rodgers wouldn’t give for someone like Mascherano in the Reds spine now!
Central midfield: Esteban Cambiasso
Leicester City may be currently propping up the Premier League table, but arguably pulled off the bargain of the summer by bagging Cambiasso on a bosman. His calm, deep-lying presence was such an asset at Inter Milan, especially when they won that historic treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010, that we feel privileged to watch what is perhaps Cambaisso’s swansong with the Foxes.
Forward: Angel Di Maria
No Argentina all-star XI would be complete without the record buy for a British football club. Winger Di Maria, who was Man of the Match in the Champions League final for Real Madrid last term, is now on display at Old Trafford. If he can shake off some niggling injuries, don’t rule him out helping Louis van Gaal in mounting a Premier League title challenge 16/1.
Forward: Carlos Tevez
From West Ham to the Red Devils, and then another controversial switch to Man City, Tevez is one of those players you cannot ignore. He won Premier League titles on both sides of the Manchester divide (three in total) before moving on to Juventus. Argentina have been unable to ignore his great form for the Turin giants, and thus recalled Tevez to the international fold last year.
Forward: Sergio Aguero
When fit, Man City forward Aguero is world-class. With him to come back in soon, Pellegrini can push Chelsea all the way in the title race. The 26-year-old has made major contributions to previous silverware success at the Etihad, and knows how to be a real predator in front of goal.
Pellegrini has brought in some healthy competition for City number one Joe Hart in his former charge from Malaga. As Caballero is used to bench-warming, he takes the substitute stopper’s spot in our squad.
Swansea summer signing Fernandez looks like an upgrade on temperamental Spaniard and previous Liberty Stadium centre back Chico Flores. He moved to south Wales in the hope of enhancing his international prospects, and so far looks set to achieve his aim of regular football with Argentina.
As mentioned earlier, Van Gaal recruited left-footed defender Rojo this past summer. Like Heinze, he is adept at centre half or left back, and can establish himself at Old Trafford amidst a rearguard injury crisis. Rojo turned out in the World Cup final, alongside several other current Argentina internationals in our first XI.
West Bromwich Albion holding player Yacob was out of favour at The Hawthorns under Alan Irvine, but the change of head coach may help him get back into action. Baggies boss Tony Pulis has a real gem here, especially with other anchorman Youssouf Mulumbu away with DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations. Yacob can help West Brom avoid relegation, despite odds of 2/1 for them to go down.
Everyone at Coral admires versatile wide player Gutierrez, who is due to return to first-team football soon after a battle with cancer. Diego Maradona played the Newcastle man as a full back at the 2010 World Cup, and he never stops running. Whoever succeeds Pardew at St James’ Park has an inspirational name at their disposal.
Ex-Liverpool winger Maxi scored one of the great World Cup goals for Argentina against Mexico in 2006 when the tournament was held in Germany. At Anfield, he netted 10 times in the 2010/11 Premier League. Rodriguez gets on our bench because of those exploits.
One of our editor’s all-time favourites. Crespo netted more international goals for Argentina than Maradona, and struck 20 in the Premier League for Chelsea in two campaigns at the Bridge. Magnificent in Milan, playing for both AC and Inter, it was a shame he never settled in England, but Crespo acts as great backup to our all-star forward options.