What makes a player one of the best? In this case, we focused on the Copa Libertadores, the biggest and most important cup competition among South American clubs. Looking back at the last five editions, we chose 20 players based on their goals scored, assists made, titles won and appearances in the Best XI.
That’s why world-class players such as Andrés D’Alessandro, Paolo Guerrero or Filipe Luís are not included on the list. They did a great job representing their teams, as always, but the players we will mention bellow really stood out.
Take a look and enjoy the top 20 Copa Libertadores best players over the past five years.
20. Gustavo Bou
The forward was a goal-scoring machine in the 2015 Copa Libertadores for Racing of Argentina. His team was eliminated in the quarterfinals, but still Bou finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 8 goals in 10 games. He was included in the Best XI that season. Now, he plays for New England Revolution of the MLS.
19. Joffre Guerrón
The midfielder has a lot of history in the Copa Libertadores. He was chosen as the competition’s MVP twice, in 2008 with Ecuador’s Liga de Quito and in 2015 with Mexico’s Tigres. He helped the Mexican team to reach the final in the 2015 edition, being the engine of the midfield. However, he couldn’t get the trophy after losing the final to River Plate of Argentina.
18. Alejandro Guerra
The midfielder made history for Venezuelan soccer in the 2016 edition. Guerra won the Copa Libertadores with Atlético Nacional of Colombia that year and became the first Venezuelan player to conquer the South American tournament. Also, he won the Most Valuable Player award and was included in the Best XI.
17. Jonathan Calleri
The Argentine striker’s performances during the 2016 Copa Libertadores sent him to the European soccer. He finished as the tournament’s top scorer that year with 9 goals in 12 games for Brazil’s Sao Paulo and was included in the Best XI. The Brazilian team lost to Atlético Nacional in the semifinals and Calleri then was transferred to West Ham of England.
16. Esteban Andrada
The goalkeeper reached the Copa Libertadores final with two different teams in the last three years. He couldn’t lift the trophy, but his performances didn’t go unnoticed. Andrada was the goalie in Lanús’ historic 2017 campaign, in which the Argentine club reached the final for the first time. A year later, Andrada also played a title deciding game, but this time with Boca Juniors against arch rival River Plate. But it wasn’t until 2019 that he was included in the Copa Libertadores Best XI.
15. Lucas Lima
The Brazilian midfielder managed to stand out in a 2017 Copa Libertadores full of surprises. He was playing for Santos by the time and helped the team to reach the quarterfinals, where it was eliminated after losing to Barcelona of Ecuador. However, Lima finished as the player with most assists in the tournament, registering 6 in only 8 games.
Cruzeiro of Brazil was one of the title contenders in 2018. However, the team couldn’t beat finalist Boca Juniors and was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Egídio was one of the tournament’s best players that year as the left-back finished with six assists in 10 games.
13. Pedro Geromel
The center back has been one of the toughest defender in the Copa Libertadores over the last couple of years. Geromel helped Gremio to lift the trophy in 2017 and reach the semifinals the next year. It wasn’t a surprise to see him included in the Best XI of both editions.
12. Darío Benedetto
The Argentine striker plays for Olympique Marseille at the moment, but he showed his goal-scoring abilities in the Copa Libertadores before moving to France. Benedetto reached the 2018 final with Boca Juniors and helped the team with five goals in only six games, including two against River Plate in the title deciding matches. Although he missed many cup games due to injuries, he was chosen by CONMEBOL to be part of the Best XI.
11. Ignacio Fernández
After beating Boca in the final and winning the 2018 Copa Libertadores, River’s most talented player Gonzalo Martínez moved to the MLS. Nacho Fernández was chosen by manager Marcelo Gallardo to take the reins of the team in attack and the midfielder helped River to reach the final again in 2019. Maybe he didn’t record many assists or goals, but he definitely was one of the cup’s best players that year.
10. Wilson Morelo
The Colombian forward has played in many different teams during his career. In 2018, he had the opportunity to compete in the Copa Libertadores with Independiente Santa Fe. He scored 9 goals in 10 cup games, from the second round to the group stage. The team couldn’t qualify for the last 16 round, but still Morelo finished as one of the tournament’s top scorers.
The skilled Brazilian forward had an outstanding 2017 season, leading Gremio to the Copa Libertadores title and winning the MVP award that edition. He finished the tournament with 8 goals in 12 matches to be included in the Best XI and many teams form Europe started to track him. However, he failed to show consistency in his performances in the coming years and stayed in the Brazilian team.
8. Franco Armani
Armani has definitively been one of the greatest players in the Copa Libertadores over the past five years. The goalkeeper won the title twice: in 2016 with Atlético Nacional of Colombia and the 2018 edition with River Plate. He reached the final for a third time in 2019 with the Argentine team, but lost against Flamengo of Brazil. Armani was included in the Best XI in 2016 and 2018.
7. José Sand
The experienced striker almost made history in the 2017 Copa Libertadores, when he led Argentine club Lanús to the final against Gremio of Brazil. Although the team failed to win the trophy, Sand finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 11 goals in 14 cup games, earning a place in the Best XI.
6. Miguel Borja
The Colombian striker helped Atlético Nacional to clinch the 2016 title by scoring 5 goals in only four games, including the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Independiente del Valle in the final. Borja stood out again in the 2018 edition, but this time with Palmeiras of Brazil. He found the net nine times in 12 matches, finishing as one of the cup's top scorers.
5. Enzo Pérez
The River Plate midfielder is one of the most complete players to have competed in the Copa Libertadores in recent years. He helped the team to win the cup in 2018 and had an almost perfect season in 2019, when River failed to beat Flamengo of Brazil in the final. Pérez was included in the Best XI that year thanks to his outstanding performances.
4. Gonzalo Martínez
Pity Martínez won two Copa Libertadores titles before moving to Atlanta United of the MLS. He was part of the River Plate squad in the 2015 championship, but he showed all his skills during the 2018 campaign, in which he won the MVP award and scored in the final against Boca Juniors to lift the trophy.
3. Bruno Henrique
The Brazilian winger was unstoppable during the 2019 Copa Libertadores. He finished with 5 goals and 5 assists, and won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. Bruno Henrique’s skills and speed helped Flamengo to conquer the trophy that year, with the player also winning a place in the Best XI.
2. Gabriel Barbosa
Gabigol, as everyone calls him, is one of the most dangerous strikers to have played the Copa Libertadores recently. He is Flamengo’s main man in attack and helped the Brazilian team win the title in 2019 by scoring nine goals in 12 games. He even netted both goals in the 2-1 victory over River Plate in the final. Barbosa and his teammate Bruno Henrique were chosen as the two men in attack in the 2019 Best XI.
1. Leonardo Ponzio
The River Plate midfielder has been included in the Copa Libertadores Best XI three times in the past five years (2015, 2017 and 2018). Ponzio was the team’s engine in midfield during the title-winning campaigns in 2015 and 2018. He also was part of the squad in 2019, when the Argentine club reached the final, although he was not a regular first-team player anymore. Ponzio is a real icon for River Plate and the Copa Libertadores.
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