The Olympic football tournament kicks off on August 4th and with Jorge Olaricoechea currently working with his squad in the United States in preparation, Daniel Fraiz-Martinez takes a look at the 18 players selected aiming to capture a third gold medal for La Albiceleste.
Article originally appeared in Outside90 Follow @Outside90 and you can also follow Daniel @DanielFMPro
Gerónimo Rulli | Goalkeeper | Age: 24 | Current Club: Real Sociedad [ESP]
The heir apparent to current Argentina first choice Sergio Romero, Gerónimo Rulli enters the tournament having already accumulated a wealth of top-level experience for one so young.
The young Real Sociedad shot-stopper will be looking to carry his impressive La Liga form to the international stage, and hopefully give the future Argentina boss something to think about upon his appointment.
Axel Werner | Goalkeeper | Age: 20 | Current Club: Atlético de Rafaela [ARG]
Somewhat of a surprise selection ahead of usual U-23 mainstay Augusto Batalla. Axel Werner showed glimpses of his promise having been thrust in to the first team last season, performing admirably when called upon.
A tall, commanding, European style goalkeeper. Werner has been touted for an imminent move to Atlètico Madrid, such is his ability.
José Luis Gómez | Right Back | Age: 22 | Current Club: CA Lanús [ARG]
The standout defender domestically last season, José Luis Gómez finished the season on a high being crowned as champion while on loan with CA Lanus.
Gómez appears set to remain with El Granate for the coming season with a permanent deal already agreed. However if he can translate his adventurous, attacking play on to the international stage in Brazil, his stay may prove an altogether brief one in favour of a move to Europe.
Lisandro Magallán | Centre Back | Age: 22 | Current Club: CA Boca Juniors [ARG]
Enjoyed a renaissance of sorts last term while on loan at Defensa y Justicia, playing a prominent part in what was a notable campaign for both him and his club.
Under the expert tutelage of Ariel Holan, Magallán performed somewhere near the level that was expected of a player who made a rather precocious jump to one of Argentina’s biggest teams in the shape of Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors.
Víctor Cuesta | Centre back | Age: 27 | Current Club: CA Independiente [ARG]
The mainstay and team captain, in what is in all honesty a rather inexperienced Argentina defence. Much will be expected of CA Independiente’s Victor Cuesta this summer in Brazil.
An elegant, yet imposing left footed defender in the Daniel Pasarella mould. Cuesta will be the undoubted leader of his countries backline, having already represented the senior side over in the US in the recent Copa Centenario.
Lautaro Giannetti | Centre Back | Age: 22 | Current Club: Vélez Sarsfield [ARG]
One of the most improved young players last term in Argentina, Lautaro Giannetti displayed both a commanding presence and effective ability to read the game, for one so young.
Largely unknown outside of his homeland, Giannetti will battle it out with Licha Magallan for a position in the centre of the Rio 2016 Argentina defence alongside the undisputed starter Víctor Cuesta.
Leandro Vega | Left Back | Age: 20 | Current Club: River Plate [ARG]
Part of the Sudamericano Sub20 squad that helped qualify for these Olympics, River Plate’s Leandro Vega has endured a largely frustrating spell since, having only sporadically featured for his club during said period.
Nonetheless Vega’s dependable nature is almost certain to be tested out at a higher level, given the River youngster would seem the most likely first choice on the left side of the defence.
Alexis Soto | Left Back | Age: 22 | Current Club: CA Banfield [ARG]
A regular in the Banfield defence last season, Alexis Soto is largely expected to bring his recently acquired experience to the international stage.
A fullback of great stamina, Soto would in theory be seen as the more attacking option on the left. Something that may well see him find his way in to the XI, in particular depending in the midfield makeup ahead of him.
Santiago Ascacibar | Central Midfield | Age: 19 | Current Club: Estudiantes de La Plata [ARG]
Heralded as the “New Mascherano” Santiago Ascacibar enjoyed a stunning debut campaign last time out for Estudiantes, more so for one so young.
A tenacious, tough tackling midfielder, a move to Europe is surely on the cards, regardless of what is expected to be a seminal career moment representing his nation over in Brazil.
Lucas Romero | Central Midfield | Age: 22 | Current Club: Cruzeiro EC [BRA]
The one-time wonderboy of domestic Argentine football, Lucas Romero has somewhat fallen down the pecking order of late.
A (seemingly intermediary) move to Brazil, and a potential opportunity to impress for his country could prove the ideal catalyst to restart what still looks a highly promising career.
Mauricio Martínez | Central Midfield | Age: 23 | Current Club: Rosario Central [ARG]
One of the unsung heroes of the domestic championship, Mauricio Martínez links up with the international side on the back of a step up in the Argentine football ladder, joining Rosario Central from Unión de Santa Fe.
The versatile midfield man could well surprise quite a few again, and sneak in to an XI despite being considered as less of a “big name” than some of his midfield teammates.
Joaquín Arzura | Central Midfield | Age: 23 | Current Club: River Plate [ARG]
A late replacement for Sevilla FC recruit Joaquín Correa. Arzura will hope to put a largely frustrating first season with River Plate behind him.
Manuel Lanzini | Attacking Midfield | Age: 23 | Current Club: West Ham United [ENG]
Having finally taken his indisputable talents to the European stage last season with West Ham United, Manuel Lanzini looks ideally placed to do the same internationally this summer in Rio.
The former River Plate playmaker will be an integral figure in his countries quest to bring home the gold.
Ángel Correa | Attacking Midfield | Age: 21 | Current Club: Atlètico Madrid [ESP]
Ángelito Correa will be considered by most as Argentina’s undoubted attacking star amongst Julio Olarticoechea’s 18-man Olympic selection.
A player who has had to overcome far more than many to reach this stage. Correa is seemingly being groomed to compete with Angel Di Maria for a wing position.
Having proved an inspirational figure in Argentina’s Sudamericana Sub 20 success, much of the same will be expected of the Atlètico Madrid youngster over in Brazil.
Giovani Lo Celso | Attacking Midfield | Age: 20 | Current Club: Rosario Central [ARG] – On loan from Paris Saint Germain [FRA]
One of South America’s most exciting talents, Giovani Lo Celso enters the Olympics on the back of having sealed a high profile transfer to French champions Paris Saint Germain.
Still a bit rough around the edges, Lo Celso’s role within the team is still unclear. However, be it from the bench or starting, the youngster is the kind of player that can unlock even the sternest defence.
Cristian Espinoza | Attacking Midfield | Age: 21 | Current Club: CA Huracán [ARG] – transfer agreed to Villareal CF [ESP]
Another of the successful Sudamericano Sub20 Argentina team, Cristian Espinoza joins the likes of Lo Celso and Co. having already sealed an important career move this summer, the winger agreeing to join Villareal CF after his Olympic adventure.
The direct, old fashioned wide man, he is expected to start on the right. Few players in the tournament will be able to stretch a defence as much as the youngster.
Jonathan Calleri | Forward | Age: 22 | Current Club: São Paulo FC [BRA] – On loan from Racing Club [ARG]
A late replacement for Atlètico Madrid’s Luciano Vietto, Calleri’s inclusion will not disappoint too many, such is the wealth of forward options at La Albiceleste’s disposal at present.
Currently plying his trade in Brazil, albeit his loan will reportedly come to an end post-Olympics. The clinical São Paulo frontman has understandably been strongly linked with a move to the current Argentine exodus reigning Europa league champions Sevilla FC.
Giovanni Simeone | Forward | Age: 21 | Current Club: River Plate [ARG]
The Sudamericano Sub20’s top scorer, Gio Simeone has dealt well with the burden of being the son to an Argentine footballing icon the likes of the current Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone.
A “Pippo” Inzaghi type forward, Simeone Jr’s game has developed notably during a fruitful spell on loan with CA Banfield. So much so that the current River Plate youngster is expected to make the move to either Italy or Spain, after representing his country this summer
Theoretically will start the tournament behind Calleri in the pecking order, but still destined to be a major part of the teams setup regardless.
Players on standby:
Ezequiel Unsain | Goalkeeper | Age: 21 | Current Club: Newell’s Old Boys
Nicolás Tripichio | Versatile defender/midfielder | Age: 20 | Current Club: Vélez Sarsfield [ARG]
Cristian Pavón | Pacey right winger | Age: 20 | Current Club: Boca Juniors [ARG]
Martín Benítez | Talented attacking midfielder | Age: 22 | Current Club: CA Independiente [ARG]
The original article can be found here on the excellent Outside90. If you haven’t checked out their site already then you should – a fantastic source for football news and opinion.