Lionel Messi lead Argentina to glory in the 2021 Copa America.

Where are they now? The 2021 Copa America Team of the Tournament

Lionel Messi won his first senior international trophy as Argentina triumphed in the 2021 Copa America – and he wasn’t the only star name to make the Team of the Tournament.

Held in Brazil, with crowds absent due to COVID, Argentina battled their way to the final and beat the hosts 1-0 in the showpiece match at the Maracana.

But what has become of the other players that shone in the Copa America that summer? We’ve checked in on where they’re at three years on.

GK: Emiliano Martinez

Martinez enjoyed a breakout tournament in 2021 – and hasn’t looked back since.

The goalkeeper became a national hero in Argentina after his penalty shoot-out heroics against Colombia in the semis and only conceded three goals throughout the entire competition.

He’s since gone from strength to strength at Aston Villa, helping the club qualify for the Champions League in 2023-24, and was an integral part of Argentina’s World Cup triumph two years ago.

His extra-time save from Randal Kolo Muani was iconic. Choosing to sh*g the Golden Glove trophy after the game was possibly even more so.

Sixteen countries will compete for the Copa America trophy this summer.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every country that has qualified for the 2024 Copa America?

RB: Mauricio Isla

Chile were past their best at the 2021 finals; a dearth of talent coming through meant La Roja were reliant on the same big names that lifted the trophy in 2015 and 2016.

While Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal were still knocking about, it was former QPR full-back Isla who made the tournament’s best XI as Chile focused on making themselves hard to beat.

After narrowly losing in the quarters to Brazil, Isla spent the second of two years at Flamengo before switching to Universidad Catolica in his homeland for a season.

The 35-year-old is now with Independiente in Argentina and was named in Chile’s preliminary squad for the 2024 Copa America.

CB: Cristian Romero

Another bedrock of the Argentina defence, Romero missed both the quarter-final and semi-final, but returned in time to put on a defensive masterclass against hosts Brazil in the final.

‘Cuti’ also lifted the Finalissima trophy in 2022, playing as a starter in Argentina’s 3-0 victory against Italy, before playing a starring role in Argentina’s World Cup victory in the same year.

Still oscillating between majesty and madness in the Premier League with Tottenham, Romero will be central to Argentina’s hopes of retaining their Copa America trophy this summer.

CB: Marquinhos

Having won the Copa America in 2019, Brazil were favourites to do so again two years later and cruised through the tournament without ever truly impressing until coming unstuck in the final.

Their downfall against Argentina didn’t detract from the accomplished performances of Marquinhos throughout the competition, part of a Brazilian defence that only conceded three goals in seven matches.

Still with PSG, Marquinhos will be the Selecao’s most experienced defender in the 2024 finals where Brazil have been grouped with Colombia, Paraguay and Costa Rica.

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TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every team to win the Copa America?

LB: Pervis Estupinan

Part of Ecuador’s emerging golden generation, Estupinan caught the eye at left-back despite his country exiting in the quarter-finals without winning any of their five matches.

He helped his country reach the 2022 World Cup, where many considered Ecuador unlucky not to reach the knockout rounds, and has established a reputation as one of the Premier League’s best full-backs at Brighton.

Sadly, Estpunian sustained an ankle injury in April 2024 that looks certain to rule him out of the 2024 finals.

CM: Rodrigo De Paul

De Paul was probably Argentina’s best player in the final. Starting out as a midfielder, he was one of his nation’s major sources of creativity, notably producing an accurate long ball to assist Di Maria’s opener.

Affectionately known as ‘Messi’s unofficial bodyguard’ during Argentina’s Copa and World Cup successes, De Paul remains a high-class operator for both his country and Atletico Madrid.

CM: Casemiro

Back in 2021, Casemiro was a crucial cog in Real Madrid’s midfield and helped drag Brazil to the Copa America final with his intelligent midfield display, scoring the winner against Colombia in the group stages.

Three years later, the midfielder has been left out of Brazil’s Copa America squad after an increasingly disastrous season at Manchester United.

He’s still only 31, but Casemiro’s days as an elite midfielder seem numbered.

Brazil XI Players Left Out of the 2024 Copa America squad featuring Manchester United midfielder Casemiro

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CM: Yoshimar Yotun

A veteran international by 2021, Yotun won his 100th cap for Peru during their group stage win over Colombia as his country reached the semi-finals.

The midfielder featured in his country’s 2018 World Cup campaign, Peru’s first since 1982, but his only two years in Europe were at Malmo between 2015 and 2017.

Now 34, Yotun plays for Peruvian Liga 1 club Sporting Cristal but hasn’t been named in Peru’s squad for the 2024 tournament.

RW: Neymar

Neymar only scored twice in the 2021 tournament – in the first two group-stage matches against Venezuela and Peru – but he was still one of the standout performers for the runners-up.

Little has gone right for Neymar since; his time at PSG ended with Champions League failure and his move to Al Hilal has been marred by an ACL injury.

And the 32-year-old won’t get the chance to win the Copa America this year either as he’s been left out of Dorival Junior’s squad because of that aforementioned injury.

LW: Luis Diaz

Diaz scored four times at the 2021 Copa America, including a jaw-dropping bicycle kick against the hosts, and finished as the competition’s joint-top goalscorer.

His scintillating performance for the semi-finalists, allied to good club form at Porto, caught the eye of Europe’s biggest clubs and the winger moved to Liverpool in January 2022.

Two years later and Diaz remains his country’s talisman, as well being widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s most exciting players.

ST: Lionel Messi

The greatest player of his generation (sorry, Cristiano) had won everything on offer at Barcelona but his search for international glory with Argentina looked increasingly forlorn.

Four goals and a string of Man of the Match performances later, Messi had his prize. The Finalissima and World Cup followed in 2022 and the 36-year-old will be hoping to retain the Copa this summer in the United States.

Given Messi’s impact on the MLS and soccer in America due to his exploits with Inter Miami, we’re not ruling out another successful summer for the little genius.

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