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HomeNewsFinal Farewell: Messi, Suárez, and More at Copa América 2024

Final Farewell: Messi, Suárez, and More at Copa América 2024

Neither the great heroes of South American football can evade the passage of time. With retirement on the horizon, the 2024 Copa América in the United States might be the last for legends like Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Alexis Sánchez, and Ángel Di María.

Others, like Arturo Vidal and Falcao García, were not even called up for what surely would have been their farewell tournament (June 20-July 14).

The ’10’s Farewell?

“I enjoy everything much more because I am aware that there is less and less time left (in my career).” These words were spoken by Messi in a recent interview with ESPN, in which he also assured, without setting dates, that he would hang up his boots at his current club, Inter Miami, where he is under contract until the end of the 2025 season.

The ’10’, who will turn 37 on June 24, in the middle of the tournament, plays in a league considered minor (MLS) and no longer has the explosiveness he once had. Although he had said that the Qatar 2022 World Cup would likely be his last, he does not deny that he would like to participate in the 2026 World Cup, as long as his physique and age allow him to “continue performing at the highest level.”

If there are doubts about his attendance to defend that title, there are even more for the next Copa América, scheduled for 2028, when ‘La Pulga’ will be 41.

Fallen Angels

Messi’s great partner in the Albiceleste, which will defend the title won in Brazil 2021 in the United States, left nothing to the imagination: “It’s the Copa América and it’s over, it’s the last.”

At 36, Ángel Di María will end his illustrious run with the national team once the competition concludes. Without ‘Fideo’, Messi would remain as the experienced card among world champions betting on the talent of youngsters like Julián Álvarez and Alexis Mac Allister.

Marcelo Martins Moreno, Bolivia’s historic top scorer (31 goals), and the Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, 37, had the same certainty as Di María about their futures.

The Bolivian, 36, hung up his boots in December, and the Uruguayan, second top scorer for La Celeste (58), announced his international retirement in May.

Holstering the Gun

Before Uruguay’s debut, at 34 years old, he announced that the 2021 Copa América would be his last. But Luis Suárez is back for what now truly might be his farewell to a competition he won in 2011.

“It would be the perfect finish to my career with the national team,” he said in February, now 37, when asked about the tournament on American soil.

With Marcelo Bielsa on the bench, ‘El Pistolero’ (68 goals) will seek to widen the gap over Cavani as the top scorer for La Celeste and win the sixteenth title, surpassing Argentina (15) and leading the historical standings.

On the path to retirement are other veteran scorers, also leaders in the scoring charts of their respective nations: Peruvian Paolo Guerrero (40 years old, 40 goals), Colombian Falcao García (38 years old, 36 goals), Chilean Alexis Sánchez (35 years old, 51 goals), and Venezuelan Salomón Rondón (34 years old, 41 goals).

Except for Falcao, who was not called by Néstor Lorenzo, the others are part of the provisional lists and should be in the United States. The Argentine coach also did not call another experienced player: 36-year-old winger Juan Guillermo Cuadrado.

Dethroned King

Midfielder Arturo Vidal, 37, is in a similar situation to the Tiger of Santa Marta: Ricardo Gareca did not call him up. “There is always the hope of being in the national team, but we respect what the coach said,” said ‘King Arturo’ before the final list was published.

Unlike the current Colo Colo midfielder and fierce defender Gary Medel (36 years old), not called by Gareca and a brand-new signing for Boca Juniors, other symbols of Chile’s golden generation will compete in the United States.

This includes forward Eduardo Vargas, 34, defender Mauricio Isla, 36, and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, 41. The tournament in the United States could mark the end for La Roja’s squad that won the 2015 and 2016 cups, as well as for a very combative man who has always left empty-handed with his national team: Venezuelan midfielder Tomás Rincón, 36.

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