Copa displays show Yerry Mina can be big asset for Rafael Benitez

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The 2021 Copa America ultimately ended in disappointment for Colombia and Yerry Mina, as they were eliminated by Argentina on penalties on Tuesday night at the semi-final stage.

Having scored in the shootout to help his team in the previous round against Uruguay, the Everton defender saw his effort saved by Emiliano Martinez in the semis and was promptly and bizarrely goaded by Lionel Messi. Martinez made three saves in total to help his team through.

It means that Mina now has a break before returning to pre-season training with the Toffees, although it will be a quicker turnaround for him than most going into the new domestic season.

Despite his penalty heartbreak, the jibes of his former Barcelona team-mate and an own goal earlier in the competition, Everton can take heart from the way Mina has performed at the Brazil showpiece.

With Colombia opting against calling up James Rodriguez for this competition, they have taken a more defensive approach. While that’s not always yielded success, it has brought the best from Mina.

He’s been a rock at the back for Los Cafeteros, showcasing typical aerial dominance and expert positioning. Clearly he’s a burgeoning leader too, offering an obvious vocal presence in defence in Brazil’s empty stadiums.

But perhaps what has been most encouraging for Everton is the amount of games Mina has played in quick succession at the competition.

Last term, whenever Mina was on the pitch for the Toffees he tended to play well, but his campaign was blighted by frequent niggles. The worry with Mina is that a layoff never feels far away and he’s tough to build a defence round as a result.

But since the start of the Copa, Mina has played in six games in three weeks and his conditioning has shown no sign of wilting. If he can find that consistency of fitness next term in a blue shirt, then he’ll be a vital part of Rafael Benitez’s Everton outfit.

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