Highlights Argentina have qualified for the 2024 Olympics after defeating bitter rivals Brazil 1-0.
Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria are believed to be interested in playing at the tournament.
Alejandro Garnacho and Enzo Fernandez are among the players that could also feature in France.
Argentina’s under-23s beat bitter rivals Brazil to secure their place in this summer’s Olympics. The Games are scheduled to take place from 26 July to 11 August 2024 in France, with La Albiceleste looking to pick up their third gold medal in football.
Over the last few years, Argentina have enjoyed success on the world stage. In 2022, they finally won another World Cup after defeating France in Qatar – Lionel Messi’s career and the nation’s first in 36 years. A year before their success in Qatar, they also won the Copa America as La Albiceleste beat Brazil 1-0 in Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana Stadium to win the tournament for the first time since 1993.
However, before their success in 2021, you’d have to go back to 2008 to take a look at the last time the country won anything. That year, the South American nation won gold at the Olympic Games. Their squad included the likes of Messi and Angel Di Maria and DirectVSports have claimed that the duo are interested in representing their nation at the games once more this summer. But who else could feature in their starting eleven? We’ve taken a look below, with Argentina able to choose to select a maximum of three over 23 stars and any player born after January 1, 2001.
Argentina’s potential starting eleven for the Olympics Player Club Age Position Leandro Brey Boca Juniors 21 Goalkeeper Gonzalo Lujan San Lorenzo 22 Right-Back Marco Di Cesare Argentinos Juniors 22 Centre-Back Cristian Romero Tottenham Hotspur 25 Centre-Back Valentín Barco Brighton and Hove Albion 19 Left-Back Ezequiel Fernandez Boca Juniors 21 Centre-Midfield Enzo Fernandez Chelsea 23 Centre-Midfield Alejandro Garnacho Manchester United 19 Left-Wing Thiago Almada Atlanta United 22 Centre Attacking Midfield Lionel Messi Inter Miami 36 Right-Wing Angel Di Maria Benfica 35 Striker
Goalkeeper – Leandro Brey
While former Argentina number one Sergio Romero is the current first choice for Boca Juniors, it won’t be long before Leandro Brey fully emerges as a regular starter for the Argentine side. At the age of 21, goalkeepers rarely hit their peak until their mid to late 20s. Therefore, time is on Brey’s side, but he has already shown that he has the potential to become a top keeper.
Playing 90 minutes in every single game of their 2024 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament campaign, it looks like a real certainty that Brey will be the number one keeper for the Olympic team in the summer.
Right-Back – Gonzalo Lujan
Gonzalo Lujan is another talented player who could be subject to the interest of many top European teams in the very near future. Lujan has been a valuable asset for the under-23s and can play in a number of positions. Having established himself as one of the first names on the team-sheet for his club San Lorenzo, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him included in the final squad for the games.
Playing a regular part of the nation’s Pre-Olympic Tournament campaign, Lujan already has a lot of experience for someone who is only 22. Featuring 42 times in all competitions for his club last season, Lujan is expected to be named in the under-23 squad for the Games in the summer.
Centre-Back – Marco Di Cesare
At 22, Marco Di Cesare joined Argentinos Juniors’ youth set up back in 2018 from Andes Talleres. He made the breakthrough into their first-team squad under manager Diego Dabove in 2020 after signing a professional contract in August of that year. His senior debut came in November in a Copa de la Liga Profesional defeat to San Lorenzo. Di Cesare has since gone on to become a regular in the team.
Di Cesare, who can also play in midfield, was born in Mendoza, but he also holds an Italian passport. Playing a regular role for Argentina’s under-23 side, Di Cesare will be itching to be named in the final squad for the Olympics.
Centre-Back – Cristian Romero
Tottenham star Cristian Romero could be named as one of the three over 23 players by Argentina for the games. While it’s likely that he will be selected for the senior side at the Copa America this summer, a chance to feature for his country at the Olympics may be too good of an offer to turn down for the defender.
In his early days with the north London outfit, many dubbed Romero as a real ”hot-head” and ”reckless.” However, he has since gone on to establish himself as one of the best defenders in the league. The 25-year-old even played a starring role for Argentina during their World Cup win in Qatar back in 2022.
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Left-Back – Valentin Barco
Brighton and Hove Albion
Brighton are particularly well-known for unearthing gems at a young age before developing them into valuable assets that bigger clubs are desperate to sign, such as Alexis Mac Allister, who moved to Liverpool last summer. After battling Manchester City for his signature, the Seagulls managed to sign Valentin Barco in January.
The 19-year-old arrived having made 35 first team appearances for Boca Juniors, where he established himself as one of the top prospects in the world. Barco, who can play in multiple positions, has represented Argentina up to under-23 level, whom he made his debut for in December. The young star is a dead cert to feature at the Olympics this year, provided he doesn’t pick up an injury before it gets underway.
Centre-Midfield – Ezequiel Fernandez
At the age of 21, Ezequiel Fernandez is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in Argentina right now. Featuring regularly for the under-23 side at the 2024 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament, Fernandez is more known for his ability in front of the backline rather than a box-to-box midfielder.
With Fernandez sweeping up any potential danger, it allows his team-mates in the heart of the midfield to push up and become an option for the attackers. With how impressive he has been for Boca Juniors, you’d expect Fernandez to play a key role for the under-23s in Paris.
Centre-Midfield Enzo Fernandez
Enzo Fernandez is another Premier League proven star whom Argentina could turn to ahead of the Olympic Games in Paris. The 23-year-old has impressed since his big-money move to west London last January. While the Blues have struggled for form over the last year, Fernandez has been one of their brightest sparks at the heart of their midfield.
Already a World Cup winner with the senior team, Fernandez could also prove to play a key role for the under-23s at the tournament off the pitch. Having had that experience at the top level, he would be seen as one of the more experienced players in the dressing room and will no doubt be a real mentor for those youngsters wanting to grow and improve their game.
Left-Wing – Alejandro Garnacho
Alejandro Garnacho has arguably been one of Manchester United’s most important players this season. With five goals already to his name so far in the 2023/24 Premier League campaign, the tricky winger channelled his inner Wayne Rooney in the club’s 3-0 win away at Everton, scoring a sensational bicycle kick after just three minutes.
With several Red Devils attackers failing to impress this season, it’s fair to say that Garnacho has stepped up to the plate and has established himself as a real fan-favourite. With three senior international caps to his name already, Garnacho is destined for a bright future with his national side. At 19, he will no doubt be one of the first names on the team-sheet if selected for the Games this summer.
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Central Attacking Midfielder – Thiago Almada
22-year-old Thiago Almada has established himself as one of the best players in Major League Soccer since moving to Atlanta United in 2022. Almada, who has four caps for the senior side, captained the under-23s in their win against rivals Brazil at the 2024 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament and is likely to play a key role for the side in the summer.
Almada is a versatile player who can either play as a central attacking midfielder or as a winger. He enjoyed a successful season for Atlanta last season, scoring 13 goals in 35 games in all competitions as well as providing 15 assists.
Right-Wing – Lionel Messi
Potentially one last dance at the Olympics for the greatest player to ever play the game? It’s certainly not off the table. Messi has an open invitation to play at the games, according to Albiceleste under-23 coach Javier Mascherano, via ESPN. With that being said, the Games are scheduled to take place two weeks after the final of the 2024 Copa America, a tournament the winger looks set to be involved in.
While featuring at both tournaments is certainly doable, it’s whether or not the tricky forward has the fitness in him to play in two major tournaments in the space of two months. At the age of 36, it may take its toll on the World Cup winner. However, his love for Argentina cannot be questioned, and he may opt to battle the pain and guide his nation to Olympic glory.
Centre-Forward – Angel Di Maria
Di Maria was another Argentine star who featured in the 2008 final against Nigeria, and most notably scored the only goal of the game. The 35-year-old, who also scored in the country’s World Cup triumph against France in 2022, has enjoyed a fantastic career following his success at the Games in 2008.
He has played 136 times for his country and has featured in a prominent role in a lot of their major tournaments since 2008. After making a name for himself at Benfica, he spent time at Real Madrid, becoming a global star. He later had a great time in France with Paris Saint-Germain, scoring 92 times in 295 games. The Argentina star will want to forget about his time at Old Trafford with Manchester United between 2014 and 2015. He moved to Juventus for the 2022/23 campaign, before joining current side Benfica last summer.
Highlights Argentina have qualified for the 2024 Olympics after defeating bitter rivals Brazil 1-0.