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Best South–American players in 2021

Wed 13 October 2021 | 14:30

Who is the best South–American player in 2021? In the following article, we've compiled who we think are the current top players in South–America. Read on to find out more about ranking the South–America’s top players.

There is no doubt that South America has been a breeding ground for some of the world's finest football talents ever. From Chile to Colombia and Argentina to Paraguay, a host of the continent's nations already have what other countries dream for.

Players from the Southern hemisphere are some of the biggest stars in European football and have won a lot of trophies for their clubs. Therefore, it is quite natural that South American football players are some of the most valuable ones in the world at the moment.

Picking just a few players from this fertile land, therefore, is never going to be an easy job. It is worth mentioning that there are some other finest prospects looking to make a name for themselves in world football over the next few years.

In a year in which the Copa America 2021 was held and ended with

Argentina

being crowned the title winners, the majority of South – American players' has been judged by their performances in the said competition, in addition to the domestic European leagues and the UEFA Champions League in which the South American players' clubs took part.

Some of them are included on the list of the most valuable South American players as well. While some shined merely on club level, and some only did well on their international duty for their country, there have been some super starts whose performances have been astonishing both on club stage as well as international level.

Best South–American players in 2021:

In the following article, we are going to uncover the name of the

best South-American players in 2021

, and provide a brief overview of their numbers which are the reasons they are included in the list.

Lionel Messi – Argentina

  • Full name: Lionel Andrés Messi

  • Date of birth: 24 June 1987 (age 34)

  • Place of birth: Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina

  • Height: 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)

  • Position(s): Forward

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of football – and arguably the greatest of all time (the G.O.A.T) –

Lionel Messi

has had one of the most notable years of his career in 2021: This has been the year he won his long – waited first major trophy with Argentina after losing 4 consecutive international final matches with Albiceleste, and also he left Barcelona after 21 wonderful years.

Back to speaking about his stats and numbers in 2021 which has made him the most probable winner of the 2021 Ballon d'Or, Lionel Messi has made 45 appearances in 2021 calendar year, scored 37 goals and provided 14 assists, meaning he has averaged 107 minutes per goal, and 78 minutes per goal contribution. (Updated Oct 3red, 2021). Only

Robert Lewandowski

has scored more goals than the Argentinean legend.

To get into more details about Messi's performance, he has played in a total of 34 games for his clubs – PSG and Barca – alongside scoring 29 goals and assisting 9.

Moreover, he has featured in 11 games for his country's national team, scored 8 goals and 5 assists, which includes his 4 goals and 5 assists in the 2021 Copa America which made him both the top score and the best assist provider of the tournament, as well as earning him the award of the best player of the competition.

Messi played the most pivotal role in Argentina's achieving the trophy after 28 years and deservedly lifted the cup at the end as the team's captain. Furthermore, he has netted 4 goals within 4 World Cup Qualifier games for his country.

In addition to his enormous achievement with Argentina, Messi won his last trophy with FC Barcelona in his last season at Camp Nou by winning the Copa del Rey.

Messi is not only one of the

best South-American players in 2021

, the same as every year in the last decade – but he has arguably been the best player in the world in the said year, and it is not far – fetched to see him winning his 7th – ever Ballon d'Or at the end.

Messi faces competition from Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho for the 2021 Ballon d'Or, but he is still the best in the world even after tricky times. The standard set by the 34-year-old this year is still higher than anyone else in football can match. Messi has still to find his feet at

PSG

, but he remains the best.

Individual awards in a team sport, like the Ballon d’Or, are always decided using some sort of contrived equation that mixes individual numbers with team achievements, but Messi’s formula, whichever way you divide it, still looks to be a winning one!

Messi scored all three goals in 2022 Argentina's World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia in Buenos Aires, giving him two more than the legendary Brazilian striker.

Only Brazilian stars Marta (109) and Cristiane (96) have scored more overall international goals than the Argentina icon as he claimed his spot as the top men's goalscorer on the continent.

“I really wanted to be able to enjoy it. I waited a long time for this, I looked for it and I dreamed of it. It’s a unique moment for the way it happened after so much waiting,” Messi said.

“There was no better way to celebrate this than to be here. My mother, my brothers are in the stands… They suffered a lot and today, they are here celebrating. I’m very happy,” he continued.

The GOAT helped lead his country to the Copa America title this summer, which was his first piece of major senior international silverware with his country.

Neymar JR – Brazil

  • Full name: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior

  • Date of birth: 5 February 1992 (age 29)

  • Place of birth: Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo, Brazil

  • Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)

  • Position(s): Forward

The Brazilian winger, who is currently standing at the top of the list of the

most valuable South American players

with a market value of €100.00m in transfermarkt.com, has been one of the best South – American players in 2021.

Neymar

beat Corinthians striker Paolo Guerrero, who scored the winning goal in the World Club Cup final against Chelsea, and compatriot Lucas Moura to the prize.

Neymar received 199 votes from sports journalists across Uruguay, giving him the award by some distance. Guerrero came in second with 50 votes.

Recent Paris Saint-Germain acquisition Lucas was third, with Ronaldinho Gaucho fourth and Fluminense's Fred fifth.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar changed the transfer market and valuations forever with his €222 million transfer from Barcelona to PSG in 2017.

He was named the Best Player of the tournament in Copa America 2021 alongside Lionel Messi, his teammate at Paris Saint – Germain. Neymar played the pivotal role in Brazil reaching the final match of the competition by scoring 2 goals and providing 3 assists.

Moreover, he recorded the most successful dribbles per match among all players with 5.8, most key passes per match with 3.5, and total most chances created with 9. However, he couldn't prevent his national club from losing the final match 1 – 0 to their eternal rival, Argentina.

In addition, Neymar featured in a total of 18 League 1 games for PSG, scored 9 goals and provided 5 assists. Furthermore, Neymar played in 9 UEFA Champions League matches for his club, where he scored 6 goals and provided 2 assists but they couldn't proceed further than the semi – finals where they were eliminated by

Manchester City

.

Although he has been suffering from several injuries, the talented footballer is still regarded as one of the greatest football players in the world, and that is what he has been ever since he came into prominence as one of the

best young football players in South America

as a teenager at the age of 17.

Argentina's Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar were picked as the two best players of the Copa America just before they met in the final. Many believed that it is not possible to choose only one (best) player because the tournament had two of them.

Neymar is definitely one of the best exponents of football in the world right now, Neymar may have been a tad underrated in the past couple of seasons. His frequent injuries and the fact that he plies his trade in Ligue 1 may have been the reasons for this.

Neymar was the most expensive signing in the history of football and is the second most valuable footballer on the market, the 29-year-old Brazilian has a contract with PSG until 2022.

FC Barcelona

paid his termination clause for 222 million euros, when at that time the value was 100 million; his value has increased and now it is 128 million euros. In France, his average goal participation is every 67 minutes.

Emiliano Martinez – Argentina

  • Full name: Damián Emiliano Martínez Romero

  • Date of birth: 2 September 1992 (age 29)

  • Place of birth: Mar del Plata, Argentina

  • Height: 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)

  • Position(s): Goalkeeper

The 29 – year – old goal keeper spent the most wonderful year of his entire career in 2021: he was one of the best goal keepers of the English Premier League in his first season with

Aston Villa

, and more importantly, Martinez was undoubtedly one of the 2 key players – alongside Lionel Messi – who took Argentina to the conquest of the

Copa America 2021

with his astonishing performances.

Martinez

was named the Best Goal Keeper of the 2021 Copa America. The competition was Martinez's first experience of featuring in a major tournament for Albiceleste.

The most memorable moments of Martinez happened in the semi-final match of the tournament, in a match whose fate was going to be decided in the penalty shootouts between Argentina and Colombia after a 1 – 1 draw in the 90 minutes.

He stunningly saved 3 opponents' penalty kicks, taking his team to the final match after a 3 – 2 win after the penalty shootouts. Martinez went on to keep a clean sheet in the decisive final match against Brazil and lead his team to the 1 – 0 victory, which brought Albiceleste their 1st major trophy in 28 years.

Due to his brilliant performances throughout the competition, he was awarded the Golden Glove award as the best goal keeper of Copa America 2021. The following you can see the proof of him winning this award: He featured in 6 games throughout the competition, saved 12 opponent opportunities, and kept 4 clean sheets.

Martinez also saved the Chilean Arturo Vidal's penalty in their opening group stage match – however, he couldn't prevent Eduardo Vargas's shot on the rebound.

The tall keeper has indubitably been one of the best South-American players in 2021, and Argentinean fans are finally enjoying having a trustable keeper that has given them hope for the upcoming 2022 World Cup.

To highlight one thing that his fans find most impressive is his shot-stopping ability though, as well as how comfortable he is using either of his bottom and top hands when making a high diving save.

Lionel Messi called his fellow countryman, Martinez, one of the best goalkeepers in the world after another strong international showing.

From his exploits at this year’s Copa America to what he’s been able to produce for Aston Villa, it’s safe to say that Martinez has proven himself in more ways than one since leaving

Arsenal

.

Martinez is easily one of the most important names on the teamsheet for both club and country and as time goes on, he just seems to be going from strength to strength with his prime as a goalkeeper likely being a few years away.

Luis Suarez – Uruguay

  • Full name: Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz

  • Date of birth: 24 January 1987 (age 34)

  • Place of birth: Salto, Uruguay

  • Height: 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)

  • Position(s): Striker

The Uruguayan striker proved Barca authorities wrong about selling him to their direct rival Atletico Madrid:

Suarez

played the main part in Atletico achieving the 2020/21 La Liga title, where he scored 21 goals and provided 3 assists in 32 games.

With the said number of goals, Suarez was his club's highest goal scorer and the League's 4th. He also presented his national team in the Copa America 2021, but only managed to score 1 goal within 5 matches.

Atlético Madrid signed one of the best players of the modern era when they secured the €6m bargain of Luis Suárez from Barcelona in August 2020. At the age of 34, he may no longer be the player who succeeded Steven Gerrard as Liverpool’s most influential figure, or the player who was so crucial in Barcelona’s treble-winning attack with Lionel Messi and Neymar, but in the Spanish capital, he has quickly proved

Diego Simeone

was right to trust him.

“(His record) speaks for itself. It is a sign of a goalscorer, he has always done it. He is an important player when he has chances, and we try to generate a game so that he does damage,” Simeone said.

Suarez was furious after Barcelona's then new manager, Ronald Koeman, told him he had no future at the Camp Nou during a phone call. It was reported that the chat between the pair lasted just 60 seconds. Suarez accused the Dutch coach of having 'no personality' on the back of confusing Barcelona snub.

"The moment they wanted Leo [Messi] to stay they called me to use me to convince him, to talk to [Antoine] Griezmann… so why didn’t they call me when they wanted me to leave?

"Or why did the coach not come and tell me that he does not count on me because he wants another type of striker?

"

Koeman

told me I wasn’t in his plans, then he said: 'If we don’t figure this out by tomorrow, you’re back in my plans and I’m counting on you against Villarreal'.

"I saw then that the man had no personality. He was not strong enough to tell me I was not needed. The decision [to sell] came from the board."

Suarez is without a doubt the greatest Uruguayan player of all time, and his international career surely reflects his brilliance for clubs as well. He has helped Uruguay win the Copa America in 2011, and was named the best player in the competition, scoring four goals and assisting two.

The exceptional playmaker is still one of the most lethal strikers in the world. The 34-year-old played 283 matches with the Catalans, netting 195 goals, and delivering 113 assists in the process.

Uruguay legend Enzo Francescoli believes that the striker is the best player in the nation's history. If the fans can forget his insufferable on-pitch behavior for a moment, Suarez is a truly remarkable talent, shining for club and country over the past decade. He is presently one of the Atletico's greatest ever imports, has become indispensable at Barcelona, and is Uruguay's record scorer.

Rodrigo De Paul - Argentina

  • Full name: Rodrigo Javier De Paul

  • Date of birth: 24 May 1994 (age 27)

  • Place of birth: Sarandí, Argentina

  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder

This year has been

Rodrigo De Paul

's most luminous year of his career, as he won the 2021 Copa America with Argentina in which he played a very important role, and made a move from Udinese to Atletico Madrid in the summer.

The midfielder, who made the €35 million ($41 million) switch from the Italian side Udinese to Atletico Madrid this window is, by some distance, the most expensive arrival in Spain this offseason.

De Paul was one of the best players of 2020/21 Serie A. The central midfielder has been successful both in his defensive duties as well as the attacking ones. He scored 9 goals and provided 9 assist in his 36 appearances for the Italian side in the 2020/21 campaign.

He completed an average of 3.5 dribbles in each game, the second best record of the league. Moreover, De Paul sent 2.3 key passes per match, standing him in the 3rd place of the players with the most key passes per match.

In addition, by making a total of 20 big chances, the 27 – year – old player was the most creative player of the competition. De Paul had more of defensive roles in the title – winning Argentinean campaign in the summer of 2021 which won the Copa America.

He played 6 games, scored 1 goal and provided 1 assists, and shows one of the brightest individual performances of the tournament which caught so many experts' eyes.

He is one of the unexpected players in the list of best South – American players in 2021. But with his current form, we may hear a lot more about him in the future.

Juan Cuadrado – Colombia

  • Full name: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado Bello

  • Date of birth: 26 May 1988 (age 33)

  • Place of birth: Necoclí, Colombia

  • Height: 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)

  • Position(s): Winger, full-back

Juventus's right winger – back spent an astonishing year on individual level: he was the UEFA Champions League's top assist provider with 6 assists within only 6 matches throughout the tournament.

Moreover, with 10 assists,

Cuadrado

was Serie A's 3rd top assist provider behind Ruslan Malinovskyi (12) and

Romelu Lukaku

(11), despite mostly playing as a right back. He was unquestionably one of the

best South-American players in 2021

.

Moreover, Cuadrado averaged 2.0 key passes per match in 2020/21 Serie A season, and created 17 total big chances, only 5 players managed to do better than him in doing the latter. Moreover, he helped his club to the conquest of the Italian Super Cup as well as the Italian Cup.

Furthermore, Cuadrado featured in 2021 Copa America for Colombian national team and helped his team reach the semi – finals, where they were eliminated in penalty shootouts by the eventual champions Argentina. Cuadrado played in 6 games throughout the competition, scored 1 goal and provided 1 assist.

Cuadrado praised his side's team spirit and winning mentality as Colombia secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Ecuador in their opening Group A fixture in the Copa America.

After the match, Cuadrado was quick to point out the importance of the team above all else.

"No one is more important than the team. We are always stronger when we are united.

"If someone goes against this idea, everything starts to weaken," Cuadrado said.

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source: SportMob

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