Argentina beat Brazil in the Copa America 2021 final to get their hands on the prestigious trophy.
Lionel Messi has finally won an international trophy with Argentina. The forward has been on the receiving end of scathing criticism over the years due to Argentina's inability to win a trophy, but Lionel Messi has silenced his critics with excellent performances in the competition.
La Albiceleste were at their snarling best against Brazil in the final, with each and every player giving everything they had. Brazil were arguably the best team in the competition, and to beat them is no mean feat.
We rank the 5 best players from Copa America 2021.
#5 Luis Diaz (Colombia)
Colombia did well to reach the semi-finals of Copa America 2021, and took Argentina to a penalty shootout before conceding defeat.
In the absence of talismanic forward James Rodriguez, it was Luis Diaz who took center stage. With both Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel not at their very best, Diaz took over the bulk of the attacking duties, and the 24-year old was Colombia's best player at Copa America 2021.
Diaz scored the equalizer in the semi-final against Argentina, and scored a brace in the match for 3rd place against Peru as Colombia won 3-2. The Porto forward has been linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur recently.
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#4 Rodrigo De Paul (Argentina)
Rodrigo De Paul was one of Argentina's best performers at Copa America 2021, and provided a beautiful assist for the sole goal of the game in the final against Brazil.
A highly creative player, De Paul has been Udinese's star man for some time now. The midfielder scored his first goal for the national team in the quarter-finals of the Copa America 2021 against Ecuador, and stood out constantly due to passing range and vision.
The 27-year old is closing in on a move to La Liga giants Atletico Madrid, having been persistently linked with Leeds United last season. De Paul's assist for Angel Di Maria's goal in the final of Copa America 2021 has to go down as the assist of the tournament.
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#3 Emiliano Martinez (Argentina)
It is rare to see a goalkeeper feature in the list for 5 best players in a tournament, but Emiliano Martinez's Copa America 2021 performance merits inclusion.
Based on current form, Martinez has to be one of the best goalkeepers in world football right now. The Aston Villa shot-stopper came to Copa America 2021 on the back of an excellent season with his club and produced some stunning performances in the tournament.
Martinez saved three penalties in the shootout against Colombia in the semi-finals and produced a crucial save against Richarlison in the final as well. The 28-year old is enjoying his best spell in professional football right now.
#2 Neymar (Brazil)
Neymar tried his very best to influence proceedings in the Copa America 2021 final against Argentina, but was the recipient of multiple cynical fouls and body checks from various Argentine defenders throughout the game.
One of the best players in the world, Neymar enjoyed a good Copa America 2021 campaign, even though it ended in heartbreak. The Paris Saint-Germain forward scored two goals and provided three assists, and was Brazil's best player at the tournament.
The 29-year old was keen to get his hands on an international trophy, but the wait continues. The pressure on Neymar to win a trophy with Brazil will increase now.
#1 Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Finally, Lionel Messi has won a trophy with Argentina. After so much criticism over the years, Messi has led his team to victory in Copa America 2021.
Argentina, in recent years, have faltered in the final stage of a tournament. From the World Cup in 2014 to two Copa America final losses to Chile, Messi and Argentina have not enjoyed the best of luck when it comes to tournament finals.
This time, it was different. Messi looked invigorated throughout Copa America 2021, and was comfortably the best player in the competition. The 34-year old scored four goals and provided five assists, and when the final whistle blew, the relief and joy on Messi's face was visible. There is little to complain about Lionel Messi's tournament this time around.
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