Neymar, Javier Pastore and 15 stars missing Copa America

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Ahead of the 2016 Copa America, which starts on Friday in the United States, Jonathan Raymond examines some of the biggest names who won’t be making an impact:

Neymar, Brazil

The Barcelona star is the highest-profile in a handful of big-name Brazilians who are out of this one. He has opted to spearhead the attack for his country at the Olympics they are hosting in August, understandably, leaving Dunga’s options up front rather threadbare. Hulk is here, again, but perhaps Neymar’s absence most interestingly will open up a place for the kid some are calling the next Neymar, 19-year-old Santos striker Gabriel Barbosa.

Javier Pastore, Argentina

The 26-year-old Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is out with injury, adding to a disappointing stretch of health that saw him play just 16 Ligue 1 matches for the French champions this season. A shame, especially, after he had appeared to be growing into his playmaking best a year ago, when he racked up 12 assists for PSG in 34 league appearances.

Paulo Dybala, Argentina

The all-action 22-year-old Juventus striker had a breakout seasons of sorts, with 19 Serie A goals for the Italian champions after coming over from Palermo. He was somewhat inexplicably denied by Argentina coach Gerard Martino, but it may have made more sense when he was named to the country’s Olympics preliminary players list.

Douglas Costa, Brazil

The winger was one of the breakout stars around the world this season, blazing down touchlines for Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich and forming maybe the fastest wing pairing in the world with French teammate Kingsley Coman. Injury, unfortunately, keeps him out of this tournament. Didn’t get a real chance at last year’s Copa America, either.

Thiago Silva, Brazil

Was kind of unfairly scapegoated in many respects as the captain of Brazil’s disastrous 2014 World Cup run. He had held a creaky defence together until his injury (as evidenced by the 7-1 thrashing they took from Germany without him) and they will be worse without the 31-year-old at this Copa America, too.

Jorge Valdivia, Chile

The mercurial 32-year-old midfielder with a magic touch was one of the key ingredients in his country’s win on home soil last year, but his attitude issues and an inconsistent season this year with Al Wahda here in the UAE probably left new Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi with the feeling that he was more trouble than he is worth.

Keylor Navas, Costa Rica

One of the key figures in Costa Rica’s remarkable World Cup quarter-final march two years ago, the Real Madrid keeper will not have a chance to spark his side on another surprise run after sustaining an injury.

Marcelo, Brazil

A delightfully talented player and a rightful club legend at Real Madrid, Marcelo's penchant for bombing forward along the wings nonetheless has never quite worked internationally, and he was one of the main culprits in that infamous Mineirazo loss. Missed out last year too with injury.

Jackson Martinez, Colombia

Life comes at you fast, huh? A year ago he was coming off another successful season at FC Porto and headed to greater fame and fortune at Atletico Madrid, who had paid a fine price for him. Then he couldn’t score, then Atletico sold him to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande, and now Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has decided he is expendable too.

David Luiz, Brazil

He, like Marcelo, has managed to have a productive and entertaining club career as his international usefulness has been, well, questionable at best. Was perhaps Brazil’s worst defender in that 7-1 shaming, and Dunga apparently feels he can do without the Paris Saint-Germain man’s free-kick expertise.

Fredy Guarin, Colombia

Another Colombian talent who traded a leading European club (Inter Milan) for China (Shanghai Shenhua). Jose Pekerman, it appears, is none too impressed with the Chinese Super League.

Giovani dos Santos, Mexico

The former Barcelona turned Tottenham turned thrice-loaned turned Mallorca turned Villarreal striker now plies his trade for LA Galaxy, a fairly steep decline for someone who once really did look like a future international star. Mexico, simply, have better options.

Jozy Altidore, United States

Remember Jozy Altidore? Of course you remember Jozy Altidore! Say what you will about his club career (it won’t be good), but he has always been a strangely effective presence for the US. Not this year, though, with an injury keeping him away from proceedings.

Jefferson Farfan, Peru

The small, speedy winger had long, productive stints at both PSV Eindhoven and Schalke before arriving in Abu Dhabi with Al Jazira a year ago. He never looked quite in top form in the UAE capital, then got hurt and now has faded out of the international picture.

Felipe Caicedo, Ecuador

Another with ties to Al Jazira, where he played briefly in 2014, he has done reasonably well for Espanyol in La Liga the past two seasons, but won’t get the chance to keep up his production at international level with an injury the cause for his absence here.