When Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli announced his 23-man World Cup squad there was widespread disbelief that Internazionale striker Mauro Icardi was not named in the squad.
La Albiceleste are well covered in attack with the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Sergio Aguero all available to Sampaoli. However, still, Icardi was one of the hottest strikers in Europe last season, scoring 29 goals for the Nerazzurri in Serie A.
Could still be in the Argentina squad
It turns out that Icardi could yet still make Argentina’s World Cup squad, as reports suggest the 25-year-old could replace the injured Manuel Lanzini in the squad.
The West Ham man suffered a knee injury in training on Thursday. He will not be able to take part this summer in Russia. That means the South American giants calling up a replacement and it seems that Icardi is that replacement.
There is a history of wildcards making big impacts at tournaments, late entries to squads or in Denmark, late entries of teams, as the Danes won Euro 1992 having failed to qualify for the tournament.
Icardi needs a chance to shine
Icardi arguably offers a different dimension than the other strikers at the disposal of Sampaoli. He offers a goal threat, is quick, strong and intelligent. He would be a good player in any team.
In a team with such technically gifted players as La Albiceleste, he should prosper. The likes of Higuain, Dybala and Aguero have failed to gel in recent years, yet Icardi has played just four times for his national side since making his international debut in 2013.
His form this season suggests that he should be given the chance to shine for the South American giants. Lanzini’s unfortunate injury may just give him that chance to shine.
Even if he is not starting the first game of the tournament, he could still be a plan b from the bench or later in the competition. If they need someone to come on and nick a vital goal, Icardi could just be the man.
Argentina should go far in Russia
Traditionally South American teams do not perform well on European soil when it comes to World Cups. However, a large number of the players from the current La Albiceleste squad play their football in Europe.
However, it is a question of whether boss Sampaoli can end that mysterious problem of getting the quality individuals to play well as a team.
It has not yet been confirmed if Icardi will be one of those players that Sampaoli will attempt to fit into the team. However, looking from the outside it seems like a crazy decision to leave the prolific striker out of the squad.
The Argentinian boss could now hand Icardi a second chance of making his squad for Russia 2018. If he does, something tells me the striker could very well turn out to be a very hand wildcard for Sampaoli to have up his sleeve this summer.
Could Mauro Icardi be Argentina’s World Cup wildcard?