From the league’s best player to top talent from north to south, Argentineans continue to be the backbone of La Liga – here’s 5 to watch this season
The Spanish league season is about to get underway and Barcelona are hoping to defend their crown from eternal rivals Real Madrid and an increasingly threatening Atlético, fresh off a European Super Cup win.
As ever, there is plenty of Argentine interest and here are five players aiming to play their way into contention for La Albiceleste.
OK, Lionel Messi isn’t exactly playing for his international future but we do know that he isn’t going to play any further part for Argentina this year. A disappointing World Cup and an uncertain project going forward have led to the world’s best player to ask for some time off.
And who can blame him? Messi shoulders the burden when it comes to Argentina and after years of serious mismanagement, the Barcelona star has dragged the side to a World Cup final, two Copa América finals and the last 16 in Russia.
Lionel Scaloni takes temporary charge for now and Messi wants to see what the AFA do moving forward in 2019 before making any decision. So for now, Barça have him all to themselves and La Liga should probably be very wary of last season’s top scorer.
Despite losing his place in the Argentina set-up, at 23 years of age Ángel Correa has every opportunity to add plenty more to his eight international appearances.
Correa has gradually earned his way into Diego Simeone’s circle and while he is yet to cement a guaranteed starting spot at Atleti, his pace, dynamism and versatility have made the former San Lorenzo forward a valuable member of the squad.
With a number of the old guard making way for Argentina, Correa could force his way back into contention with a strong campaign in Spain.
Ramiro Funes Mori
Only injury probably denied Ramiro Funes Mori his place in Russia but back fit again and now with Villarreal the defender will be striving to reclaim his place at the heart of Argentina’s back four (or three).
The 27-year-old had solidified his place as Nicolás Otamendi’s partner before a serious knee injury and his lack of playing time last season after recovery cost Funes Mori a place in Jorge Sampaoli’s squad.
A fresh lease of life at Villarreal for the confident central defender in a position where Argentina are not exactly inundated with options, could well see Funes Mori back.
A teammate of Funes Mori’s at Villarreal now, Santiago Cáseres has been earmarked as one for Argentina’s future but an impressive start in Spain could see the 21-year-old as a central part of Argentina’s present.
— LA VOZ DEL FÚTBOL (@lavozdelfutbol2) July 28, 2018
With Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia two of those to have already confirmed their retirements, Lionel Scaloni and whoever is named Argentina’s permanent coach will need a new defensive midfielder maestro. Cáseres could be that man.
An energetic ball winner and efficient passer from deep, the Vélez academy product has it all to prove and shouldn’t be rushed but the talent is there and Cáseres could provide an immediate solution to that specific positional problem.
A nightmare campaign at Real Sociedad last season cost Gerónimo Rulli dearly and the 26-year-old must now recapture his form to get back into position to contest the Argentina number one slot.
The former Estudiantes stopper has long been tipped to be Argentina’s replacement for Sergio Romero but after finally getting an overdue spot in the squad, his club form fell off drastically. Several errors in La Liga saw him lose his position for Sociedad and it was difficult in the circumstances to suggest he should be given the responsibility in Russia.
However, Romero remains a substitute at club level, Willy Caballero’s international days are over and Franco Armani didn’t make the most of his chance in Russia so the door remains open.