An outrageously brilliant XI of players left out of Brazil’s Copa America squad

Brazil coach Dorival Junior has gone early by naming his provisional squad for next month’s Copa America and there are some notable absentees – including star names from Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham.

Dorival Junior has opted to go with a more streamlined 23-man squad, despite being allowed to name up to 26 names. That squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Bento (Athletico Paranaense), Ederson (Manchester City). Defenders: Danilo (Juventus), Yan Couto (Girona), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Wendell (Porto), Lucas Beraldo (PSG), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal), Marquinhos (PSG). Midfielders: Andreas Pereira (Fulham), Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Joao Gomes (Wolves), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham) Forwards: Endrick (Palmeiras), Evanilson (Porto), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Raphinha (Barcelona), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Savinho (Girona), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

We wouldn’t dream of arguing with some of those selections, but it does leave out some very talented individuals. To demonstrate that, we’ve compiled a brilliant XI of players left out.

GK: Leo Jardim

Admittedly we’re not off to the sexiest start here, with no massive abundance of great Brazilian ‘keepers right now.

Aside from trusty stalwarts Alisson and Ederson, Bournemouth’s Neto is the only Brazilian sticksman to have played regularly across Europe’s major leagues this season.

Not to be confused with the old Monaco boss, this Leo Jardim was called by the Selecao for the March friendlies against Brazil and England following Ederson’s injury, albeit the 29-year-old Vasca da Gama ‘keeper remains uncapped after failing to make it onto the pitch.

Let’s face it. No one’s getting games ahead of Alisson or Ederson any time soon.

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RB: Vanderson

“It’s great to hear Barcelona and United ‘love’ you,” Vanderson said, as reported in the Brazilian press, back in September.

“It’s fantastic to know your name is being mentioned by the big clubs. But, now I’m focused only on Monaco.”

Links to some of Europe’s biggest clubs ought to have been no surprise, given how seamlessly the right-back has slotted in at Monaco since joining from Gremio two years ago.

The 22-year-old’s standards haven’t dropped, a standout player for Monaco as they’ve finished a runner-up finish behind PSG in Ligue 1. His fine form was rewarded with his first international caps in September and he can feel hard done by to miss out.

CB: Gleison Bremer

Another Brazilian who’s been talked up to come and solve Manchester United’s defensive woes, Bremer has quietly enjoyed a very solid Serie A campaign with Juventus.

He’s been a near ever-present at the heart of the Old Lady’s defence this season, a key cog in their excellent defensive record of just 28 goals conceded and 16 clean sheets from 36 matches.

Juve will be back in the Champions League next season and Bremer is one to keep an eye out for on the big stage.

CB: Thiago Silva

The 39-year-old, who was part of the 2019 Copa America-winning side and has over a hundred caps for Brazil, has recently announced he’ll be returning home this summer, rejoining boyhood club Fluminense.

But time waits for no man and new Brazil coach Dorival Junior is looking more ahead to the future.

We might not have seen the last of Silva in a Brazil shirt, though. We could definitely envisage the centre-back seeing out his glittering international career by lending his considerable experience to Brazil’s Olympic squad in Paris later in the summer.

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LB: Ciao Henrique

Monaco’s other excellent Brazilian full-back, on the other flank they’ve got Ciao, who was also rewarded with his first cap earlier this season.

The 26-year-old came up through Atletico Madrid’s academy after joining from Santos as a youngster, though he never made it beyond the fringes under Diego Simeone and left for Monaco in search of more regular opportunities.

And he’s certainly found them in the principality, into his fourth year at Monaco with over a hundred Ligue 1 appearances under his belt.

Ciao started the season with an excellent return of four assists in his first four outings, but unfortunately an ACL injury suffered in September curtailed his campaign. He’s recently made his return after seven months out, but the Copa America appears to have come too soon.

DM: Casemiro

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that Brazil were stacked with three world-class, serial trophy winners as their options at the base of midfield – Fabinho, Fernandinho and Casemiro.

Fernandinho is 39 and winding down his career with Athletico Paranaense, so it makes sense he’s aged out of the picture gracefully. But Casemiro and Fabinho are 32 and 30 respectively, and their drop-offs have been more sudden than anyone could have anticipated.

“Casemiro deserves respect from all of us. Three months ago, I told him what I expected of him. He knows very well what I think of him,” explained Dorival Junior.

“I will contact him tomorrow and explain what the future may hold. He’s a player who deserves consideration and we continue to see him as a player at this level.”

Casemiro might be enduring a nightmare season with Manchester United, but he’s still a five-time Champions League winner who has represented Brazil in numerous big tournaments. A big call to leave that experience out of the dressing room.

world-class Premier League footballers who suddenly fell from grace featuring (l-r) Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, Man Utd's Casemiro and Chelsea's Fernando Torres

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CM: Ederson

Man City’s Ederson, of course, makes the cut. But his namesake, Atalanta’s midfield dynamo, misses out.

The former Corinthians man has never received an international call-up. On the evidence of his fantastically disciplined display in Atalanta’s 3-0 Europa League victory away to Liverpool, he’d offer a lot to Brazil’s Copa America squad.

CM: Joelinton

A fan favourite on Tyneside, Big Joe has recently made his return from a four-month injury lay-off.

Were it not for that, you imagine he’d have been pushing for the Copa America, having featured semi-regularly for the Selecao alongside his Magpies team-mate Bruno Guimaraes last year.

Joelinton’s transformation from misfiring forward to all-action box-to-box powerhouse has been nothing short of sensational. That kind of dynamic, physical profile would be an asset for any midfield.

FWR: Matheus Cunha

Cunha isn’t the most Hollywood name in this XI, and he’s never scored in 11 appearances for Brazil.

But his stats this season speak for themself. Ballon d’Or frontrunner Vinicius Junior is the only Brazilian to have scored more goals (13) than Cunha (12) across Europe’s major leagues this season. And no player – not Vini Jr, nor Barcelona’s Raphinha, nor Girona wonderkid Savio – have more direct goal contributions (19; 12 goals, seven assists) than the Wolves man.

ST: Richarlison

“Every time you play, you have to do your best, you have to try and score, because it’s a heavy shirt to wear, just like the number 10 shirt,” the Tottenham striker said of succeeding the legendary Ronaldo in wearing No.9 for Brazil at a World Cup.

Richarlison’s solid if unspectacular record of 60 goals in 228 Premier League appearances for Watford, Everton and Spurs isn’t what you might expect of Brazil’s first-choice centre-forward.

But he understands what it means to lead the line for the Selecao and has often saved his best performances for the international stage – for example his two-goal haul and all-round complete centre-forward display in Brazil’s 2022 World Cup opener against Serbia.

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FWL: Gabriel Jesus

Arsenal’s No.9 had already fallen behind Richarlison in the pecking order and not appears to be out of the picture entirely. It’s no great surprise, given that Mikel Arteta has lost patience with Premier League starts few and far between since Christmas.

But it shouldn’t be forgotten that he’s an exceptional forward when fit and firing and looked as though he’d be a key cog for Arteta’s Arsenal during his exceptional first few months at the Emirates.

Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus features in Brazil XI left out of the Copa America 2024 squad