Poor Paulo.

An outrageously gifted XI left out of Argentina’s Copa America squad

Argentina has just confirmed its preliminary Copa America 2024 squad, and there is one glaring omission. No, not him. He’s there. If Lionel Messi is available, you pick him.

The preliminary squad consists of 26 players, and plenty of your favourites are in there: Alexis Mac Allister, Alejandro Garnacho, even Lisandro Martinez has snuck in despite injury problems this season.

You can put together an impressive team of ballers left out by Argentina, though; we’ve assembled an XI of snubbed Argentinians that we reckon would do a pretty good job.

We’ve done it properly, too — an actual functioning side in a 3-4-3 diamond. Starting with the goalkeeper…

GK: Paulo Gazzaniga

Gillingham legend Gazzaniga has just been an almost ever-present in Girona’s astounding La Liga season, and will be going to the Champions League with them next season. Not good enough for a place in Argentina’s squad, though.

To be fair, he’s not ousting Emi Martinez anytime soon—Aston Villa’s sh*thouse stopper ain’t going anywhere—but surely Paulo deserves a place on the bench, no?

CB: Nicolas Otamendi

Ex-Manchester City centre-half Otamendi has well over 100 caps for Argentina, and he continues to perform for Benfica in the Primeira. However, Otamendi is 36 now, so perhaps Lionel Scaloni is looking for younger blood.

Still, worth taking, no?

CB: Juan Foyth

The former Spurs defender is with Villareal in La Liga in 2024. The Yellow Submarine have just missed out on European competition next season. Foyth can play right-back or centre-back, he’s good on the ball, and he’s only 26…

Unlucky to miss out, in our opinion.

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CB: Marcos Senesi

Bournemouth have outperformed everybody’s expectations, this season, and Senesi has been a vital part of that.

Fun fact: Senesi was called up to both the Argentina and Italy squads who were to face each other in the 2022 Finalissima. He chose Argentina, and has only made one appearance for the Albiceleste.

DM: Carlos Alcaraz

Despite getting relegated with Southampton just five months after signing, Alcaraz impressed during his time in the top tier with The Saints. He played the first half of the Championship season on the South Coast, before heading out to Turin on loan with Juventus.

Juve have an option to buy, and Southampton have got a playoff final coming up against Leeds. Either way, you’d fancy Alcaraz to be playing at the top level again next season.

Possibly missed out on this squad due to confusion with the supreme Spanish tennis player.

CM: Alan Varela

Varela came to the forefront of the wider footballing consciousness, this season, due to his performances in the Champions League.

The 2023-24 was the midfielder’s first season outside of Argentina, having jumped from Boca Juniors to Porto in the summer, and he’s crushing it in Portugal.

The tough-tackling midfielder is only 22, so there’s still plenty of time for him to establish himself as an Argentinian international, but we think he’s a little unfortunate not to have made the Albiceleste’s Copa America 2024 squad.

Lionel Messi lifting the trophy back in 2021.

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CM: Facundo Buonanotte

First things first: Facundo roughly translates from Latin as ‘eloquent’ in English. Buonanotte means ‘goodnight’ in Italian. Therefore, Brighton’s young midfield star is essentially called Eloquent Goodnight in English, and that’s a fun name.

Senor Goodnight has been a standout for Brighton, especially in the second half of this Premier League season, and is already a full Argentina international despite being just 19 years old.

Copa America 2024 came just a little too soon for Buonanotte, but his time will come.

CAM: Emi Buendia

Buendia played in every single Premier League game for Aston Villa in the 2022-23 season.

Immediately before 2023-24 kicked off, he suffered a serious knee injury that has kept him out all season and has, ultimately, kept him out of the Argentina squad for Copa America 2024.

Buendia is super-talented and forced Philippe Coutinho out of the Villa team upon his arrival in Birmingham. Let’s hope he’s back soon.

RW: Paulo Dybala

This is the one. Leaving Dybala out of the squad despite an impressive season with Roma is a huge call from Lionel Scaloni.

Dybala has not enjoyed the international career that his talents deserve, and that is largely down to the misfortune of playing in roughly the same position as Messi.

Now, Scaloni seems to be blooding the youngsters like Valentin Carboni and Alejandro Garnacho, preparing them to take over the mantle.

LW: Taty Castellanos

He may have a name like a potato but Castellanos is no spud. The ex-NYCFC man spent 2022-23 on loan at Girona, and joined Lazio on a permanent deal at the start of the 23-24 season.

He played an important part in Lazio’s Serie A season, which has them on course to finish seventh, just outside of the European places.

ST: Mauro Icardi

Controversy seems to follow Icardi wherever he goes, but there’s no denying the striker’s talent. Since joining Galatasaray on loan from PSG—a move which he made permanent last summer—Icardi has scored 43 goals in 55 Super Lig games.

Icardi is effectively exiled from the Albiceleste international setup due to the fact that he started a relationship with former Argentine teammate Maxi Lopez’s then wife Wanda Nara.

Wanda and Mauro are married with kids, now, but Icardi became a figure of hatred in Argentina, and even the great Diego Maradona declared that Icardi should not play for Argentina.