20 Home-Based South Americans Who Will Shine at the World Cup
Here we select 20 of the locally-based South American footballers who will have the opportunity to make a big impression at the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
These days it is far less common to see entire squads from the continent made up of players who ply their trade in their home country. In fact, the opposite is more often than not the case.
With so many top-class footballers poached by foreign clubs when they are in their late teens or early 20s, the majority of South American sides' starting 11s are nowadays play their club football away from their own countries.
There are still a smattering of home-based players, however, who are poised to have an impact on the biggest stage next year.
Though CONMEBOL qualification is not yet complete, and the intercontinental playoff is yet to take place, for argument's sake we are counting Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Uruguay as the teams most likely to make it to the finals.
Carlos Valdes (Colombia)
The former Philadelphia Union defender is currently back on loan to his former club Santa Fe and will be keen to put in some strong displays in order to secure a World Cup berth.
The 28-year-old comes straight off the production line of gritty Colombian center-backs who are very tough to pass but also capable of playing the ball calmly out from the back.
He is likely to feature in Brazil in 2014, where Colombia are among the dark horses to shake up the tournament, either as a starting center-half or a key squad member.
Alexander Dominguez (Ecuador)
The Liga de Quito stalwart will be competing for Ecuador's No. 1 jersey with Max Banguera at the World Cup, and it is Alexander Dominguez who would appear to have his nose in front at this stage.
With his height, flexibility and huge leap, the man they call "Dida" casts an imposing figure between the goal posts. Expect him to break a few strikers' hearts in Brazil.
Juan Manuel Martinez (Argentina)
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has shown in the past he likes "Burrito" Martinez as an attacking option off the bench, despite the myriad of Europe-based forwards he has to choose from.
The 27-year-old was somewhat of a late bloomer, only really hitting his peak in his last few seasons with Velez. After a stint in Brazil with Corinthians, he is now back in Argentine football with Boca Juniors and will be in contention for a spot in the Albiceleste squad for the World Cup.
He plays his best football cutting in from wide positions to create chances for his teammates or score goals of his own.
Jaime Ayovi (Ecuador)
Predatory finisher Jaime Ayovi is currently owned by Mexican club Tijuana but is spending a year-long loan spell at Liga de Quito in order to rediscover his most formidable form after suffering a fractured fibula in February.
He enjoyed his best season in 2010 when he was voted best player in the Ecuadorian league after top scoring with 24 goals.
If he can rediscover that goal scoring touch he's a shoe-in for a starting spot in Reinaldo Rueda's side.
When asked to take up the striking role for the Brazilian national team, Jo has more often than not taken the opportunity with both hands.
He may not possess the flair of Neymar or Atletico Mineiro teammate Ronaldinho, but he does know how to convert the brilliant play of such luminaries into goals.
EPL fans may not have witnessed the best of him, but if Jo gets his chance at the World Cup, they may be surprised to see a much more confident and composed player.
Charles Aranguiz (Chile)
Though Charles Aranguiz is the only Chilean to make this list, he is among the most likely to play a starring role for his national side in Brazil. The multi-faceted midfielder is certainly a valuable asset for both club and country.
The Universidad de Chile hub, along with the likes of Arturo Vidal and David Pizarro, forms a formidable posse of Chilean midfielders who will be vying for starting spots and share a silky passing game and penchant for creative play.
He may be an outside chance to make the Brazil squad this time around, but if Felipe Scolari is short of defenders or wants to blood some new talent, Doria would make a fine selection.
Big and physical, the 18-year-old is also remarkably composed at the back. He is a player of huge potential who probably won't be based in Brazil for much longer.
Frickson Erazo (Ecuador)
Left-sided central defender Frickson Erazo not only has a fantastic name, he is also a powerful presence at the back for Barcelona Sporting Club and the Ecuadorian national team.
The 25-year-old is particularly dominant in the air, which could prove a very important trait should Ecuador come up against an especially tall side at the World Cup next year.
Andres Scotti (Uruguay)
Veteran center-back Andres Scotti could be among the oldest players at Brazil 2014 if he is selected in Oscar Tabarez's team.
The 37-year-old Nacional stopper did not earn his first call-up until the age of 30, but he has since played 40 times for his country.
Having spent time in Russian, Mexican and Argentine football, he brings plenty of experience to the table.
Leandro Damiao (Brazil)
Striker Leandro Damiao is tipped to make himself a fixture in the Brazilian side if he can remain injury-free. The Internacional player will be competing with the likes of Jo for the No. 9 role next year and is widely considered the most talented target man in Brazilian football at present.
The only surprise so far in terms of his career trajectory is the fact he has not yet made the move to European football.
Fernando Gago (Argentina)
Classy Boca midfielder Fernando Gago will likely play a huge part in determining whether Argentina can lift the World Cup trophy for a third time in Brazil 2014.
During Alejandro Sabella's reign, Gago has proven the most effective link man between the defensive unit and Argentina's dazzling forward players.
If the former Real Madrid man can keep the Albiceleste midfield humming, his team has a great chance of going all the way.
Emiliano Velazquez (Uruguay)
To counterbalance the abundance of grizzled veterans in his squad, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez may opt to include some young guns, such as Danubio teenager Emiliano Velazquez.
The former U-17 and U-20 captain at international level, Velazquez may be uncapped for the full senior side, but he is on his way to establishing himself as a first-team player with his club.
A sharp and skillful center-back, the 19-year-old is also endowed with the typical Uruguayan toughness.
Luis Saritama (Ecuador)
Twinkle-toed Luis Saritama has long been one of Ecuador's finest attacking midfielders. If La Tri are to take the game to their various opponents in Brazil, the 29-year-old from Loja will most likely be the one providing the creative spark.
The Liga de Quito veteran has never actually found the net for his national side, so he would no doubt love to break that drought on the biggest stage of all.
A forward who could potentially be playing for one of Europe's biggest sides, Fred has nonetheless remained at Fluminense since returning to Brazil from Lyon in 2009.
His five goals at the Confederations Cup give an indication of how dangerous he could be at the big show in 2014.
Felipe Scolari will be praying that Fred remains injury-free and is able to steer Brazil through the tournament with a hat-full of goals next year. A smart bet for the World Cup golden boot.
Faryd Mondragon (Colombia)
Globe-trotting goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon has spent time at Independiente, Metz, Galatasaray, Koln, Philadelphia Union and many more clubs, but now he has landed back at the team where it all started, Deportivo Cali.
If the 42-year-old, who played for Colombia in France 1998, makes an appearance in Brazil, he will become the oldest player to ever take the field in the World Cup finals.
Former Shakhtar Donetsk idol Jadson is back in the Brasileirao with Sao Paulo and currently sits on the fringes of the Brazil squad.
A couple of injuries to key midfielders and the little playmaker could be right in the mix.
He may not have quite the prestige of an Oscar or Paulinho, but if called on, he certainly has the skills to unlock an opposition defense.
Edison Mendez (Ecuador)
He may be 34 years old, but Edison Mendez still has one of the most fearsome right feet in the South American game.
Whether he is curing in corners, firing home free kicks or belting long-range shots on target, the ex PSV player can be a threat from anywhere in the attacking third.
The 108-game Ecuadorian legend may be entering the final stages of his career, but he still packs enough of a punch to make waves at the World Cup.
Alvaro Fernandez (Uruguay)
After many seasons in foreign lands, Alvaro Fernandez is back in his own country in a loan deal with Nacional.
The strapping midfielder recently made a comeback to the Uruguayan team, appearing as a substitute against Venezuela. It was his first run out with the national side since 2010, and the 27-year-old will be keen to seal a spot on the final squad by impressing in his homeland.
The Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire old boy has a habit of arriving late in the box to score crucial goals and would be a handy inclusion in Tabarez's lineup.
Stefan Medina (Colombia)
A regular starter for Atletico Nacional and former Colombia U-17 selection, Stefan Medina is a highly rated youngster who could become a fixture at right-back for the senior side over the next few years.
His debut against Uruguay in a recent qualifier was a tough learning experience, but the 21-year-old has the mental toughness to recover and stake a claim for a World Cup berth.
Maxi Rodriguez (Argentina)
No Argentina fan who witnessed Maxi Rodriguez's phenomenal goal against Mexico in the 2006 World Cup will ever forget the sweetly hit strike.
The former Atletico Madrid and Liverpool midfielder has been called up by Sabella a handful of times to sit on the bench in qualifiers, and if he continues his dominant form for Newell's Old Boys, he might get the chance to provide another unforgettable moment in Brazil.
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