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James back in Colombia squad for friendlies in U.S.

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BOGOTA, Colombia — Midfielder James Rodriguez will return to Colombia’s national team after a four-match absence for two friendlies in the United States against Peru and Ecuador.

However, striker Radamel Falcao remains out with an Achilles injury.

Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz announced his squad of 34 players on Tuesday for matches on Nov. 15 against Peru in Miami and four days later against Ecuador in Harrison, New Jersey.

Rodriguez has not played for Colombia since this summer’s Copa America. He returned to Real Madrid this season after a year on loan at Bayern Munich.

Queiroz also called up strikers Juan Fernando Quintero and Rafael Santos Borre, who will play in the Copa Libertadores final for River Plate against Flamengo on Nov. 23.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Napoli), Camilo Vargas (Atlas), Aldair Quintana (Atletico Nacional), Eder Chaux (Patriotas).

Defenders: Luis Orejuela (Cruzeiro), Stefan Medina (Monterrey), Santiago Arias (Atletico Madrid), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Yerry Mina (Everton), Jhon Lucumi (Genk), Jeison Murillo (Sampdoria), Cristian Borja (Sporting Lisbon), William Tesillo (Leon), Johan Mojica (Girona), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors).

Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (Zenit), Gustavo Cuellar (Al Hilal), Jorman Campuzano (Boca Juniors), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth), Steven Alzate (Brighton), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Mateus Uribe (Porto), Yairo Moreno (Leon).

Strikers: Luis Muriel (Atalanta), Luis Sinisterra (Feyenoord), Steven Mendoza (Amiens), Roger Martinez (America de Mexico), Luis Diaz (Porto), Sebastian Villa (Boca Juniors), Alfredo Morelo

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

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This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.

Copa America team of the tournament announced

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The 2019 Copa America team of the tournament has been announced, and Lionel Messi hasn’t been included in the best XI.

Hmm. I wonder why…

Messi slammed CONMEBOL officials and referees for “corruption” and said the tournament was “fixed” for Brazil to win it.

That led to South America’s governing body releasing a statement defending its officials and a ban is likely coming up for Mr. Messi. So, yeah, he’s not in the team of the tournament and his one goal in six games could also suggest why that was the case.

The Selecao did win the tournament, beating surprise finalists Peru 3-1 in the final, as the hosts were dominant throughout.

Five Brazilian players feature in the team of the tournament with Alisson, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Arthur and Everton all included. But Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino both had very good tournaments for the hosts, while Alexis Sanchez also had his moments before he suffered an injury.

Peru’s Miguel Trauco and Paolo Guerrero were also in the best XI, while James Rodriguez from Colombia, Leandro Paredes from Argentina, Chile’s Arturo Vidal and Uruguay’s Jose Gimenez are all the lone representatives from their nations.

Below is the team of the tournament in full.


2019 Copa America Team of the Tournament

Goalkeeper: Alisson
Defenders: Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Jose Gimenez, Miguel Trauco
Midfielders: Arthur, Arturo Vidal, Leando Paredes
Forwards: Everton, James Rodriguez, Paolo Guerrero

Report: James Rodriguez close to Napoli move

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According to a report by Spanish publication AS, James Rodriguez is nearing a move to Napoli on a permanent transfer from Real Madrid.

The report says that with Colombia now out of the Copa America after falling to Chile in the quarterfinals, the move can progress to completion. AS reports that Rodriguez has agreed to a contract with the Serie A side in a deal worth $7.4 million per year, and now the two clubs will negotiate on a transfer structure.

Despite James not being in Zidane’s squad plans, Real Madrid wants $57 million for his services, according to the AS report. Napoli is instead proposing a loan-to-buy deal to allow them to procure the funds and pay out later. That may not be ideal for Real Madrid who is looking to spend enormous sums of money this summer to overhaul the squad after a disappointing season and could want the income soon to balance the books. Still, it might be the best deal Real Madrid gets for the Colombian, with Napoli offering around $11 million in a loan fee for this season followed by $46 million next summer to seal the permanent transfer.

At Napoli, Rodriguez would link up with Carlo Ancelotti for the third time in his career after playing for the Italian at both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich previously. James returned to Madrid after a two-year loan at Bayern did not result in a permanent purchase, but Madrid was never going to keep him at the Bernabeu.

James played just 20 times in Bundesliga action last season, scoring seven goals while hampered by knee and calf problems. He was a regular for Colombia at the Copa America this summer, failing to find the back but assisting a pair.

Copa America roundup: Chile wins in penalties; Argentina will meet Brazil

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Another day, another round of penalty kicks in the Copa America in Brazil.

Chile won the 2015 and 2016 versions of the tournament, beating Argentina in penalties both times, and kept the possibility of three-match open for July.

Colombia 0-0 (4-5 pens) Chile

A handball denied Chile a goal in regulation, and it sat 0-0 in regulation.

Club Leon’s William Tesillo’s fifth round effort was the first miss of the shootout, and Alexis Sanchez rolled in the ensuing kick to keep the champs alive.

Chile gets the winner of Uruguay and Peru, who kickoff at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Venezuela 0-2 Argentina

Lionel Messi admits he hasn’t been in top form during this Copa America, but Argentina is now two wins from helping him lift his first true international prize.

“It has not been my best Copa America,” Messi said, according to AS. “The pitches are really very difficult. They’re not conducive to good football. They’re in bad condition.”

Lautaro Martinez scored a clever redirection and Spurs target Giovani Lo Celso also bagged one as La Albiceleste set up a meeting with Brazil in the semifinals.