Sampaoli Not to Take Icardi to World Cup

Inter star Mauro Icardi has not been selected by Coach Jorge Sampaoli for the final squad of Argentina which is going to feature in Russia World Cup.

Football news: Argentina go into World Cup with half-fit Aguero and off-colour Higuain instead of Icardi

Although there is a fair amount of strength in the defence and midfield of Argentina, but they will have to rely on the strikers to put the ball in the net if they are to better their success of 2014 World Cup.

Sampaoli has chosen two out and out strikers in the list which was featured on Monday. One is Sergio Aguero, who had a brilliant season with the Premier League champions Manchester City, while the other is Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain.

These two players will be supported by Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala, who will add some creative thrust. Apart from that Boca starlet Cristian Pavon and Independiente winger Maxi Meza were also selected.

Although these six players can destroy any opposition in their day, yet keeping only Aguero and Higuain can prove to be a risk as both the players have failed to replicate their club success in the international level.

Aguero has not played any competitive match since March as he suffered from a knee injury which he received in training with Manchester City. The striker however says that, “I'm feeling better every day,” as he insists that he will become fully fit in Russia.

Kun has become a complete and mature player than he was four years back, but he needs to brush aside his injury-prone attitude as this would affect his natural game.

On the Higuain is perhaps the most criticised played in the history of Argentina because of his inability to perform in decisive matches, especially in the last three finals where Argentina had featured.

Moreover he has scored for the national team since October 2016, and including the last friendly against Spain, he has gone seven games goalless.

This is where Mauro Icardi, who has 29 goals in 33 Serie A matches might have come in handy. While another player in the likes of Racing’s Lautaro Martinez was also neglected despite his 14 goals in 2018, which was outscored by Messi and Aguero only.

Former Argentina star Hernan Crespo feel that there is a conspiracy theory that Messi might have chosen Icardi’s sworn enemy Maxi Lopez instead of him.

“The national team is now made up of a magic circle, do you understand me? Icardi is not part of the circle and therefore, unfortunately, he will not go to the World Cup in Russia. This is my opinion,” Crespo said to Gazzetta dello Sport.

He also added, “The team needs a striker like him, but [Jorge] Sampaoli and Messi think otherwise.” Although this theory is tempting, but another fact is that Icardi had chances under Sampaoli but could not capitalise on them.

However Crespo was dead right on one thing. “In the penalty area, no other player in the world is as good as him. When he gets the ball, he’s deadly,” he said, as the 25-year-old Icardi has shown that he has matured.

Time will only tell if the decision to take a half-fit Aguero and off-colour Higuain instead of a vibrant Icardi will work out fairly for Sampaoli or not.