With a striker with the abilities of Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi, it begs the question as to why his international experience with Argentina has been limited.
The 24-year-old has just three international appearances for his national team in 18 months. He was called up to the national team this week by coach Jorge Sampoli along with Lautaro Martinez, a player Inter has signed to start next season.
But, this is a player who has notched 28 goals in 32 appearances this season for the Nerazzurri. So, why has his call-ups been so sporadic and limited?
Argentinian football legend Hernan Crespo believes five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is responsible.
“As far as I can see, it’s (Icardi’s possible exclusion) because he is no friend of Messi, or am I wrong? My beloved Seleccion is now built around a magic circle, understand? Icardi is not in that circle and therefore, unfortunately, won’t go to the World Cup in Russia,” Crespo said, as reported by extra.ie.
While Messi is revered internationally for his play, I am just not sure if he is the real culprit in Icardi’s absences with the international team.
In terms of strikers, Argentina is loaded. With the likes of Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Messi, it is a very crowded field for Icardi to break into.
When it comes down to it, selection comes down to performance and fit with the rest of the team. That’s not to say that Icardi doesn’t fit with his compatriots or that his performance is lacking in any way, but let’s be honest, while Icardi has produced great results with Inter this season, that has not always been the case.
But, in the last three seasons in Serie A, Icardi has scored 20 goals or more. However, over that same time, he has only 11 assists which could be a factor. It could show an inability to get into position to feed players like Dybala or Messi for additional scoring opportunities … a fact Crespo does not dispute.
“Inside the penalty area, Icardi has no equal on a global scale,” Crespo said. “When a cross arrives, he is deadly. If you want to build moves with central passing, then Gonzalo Higuain or Sergio Aguero are more suited, but if you do like Inter with tons of crosses flung into the box, where are you going to get anyone better than Icardi?”
In his brief appearances for Argentina, Icardi has not found the back of the net once – which may not necessarily be an indicator considering the limited number of times he has played.
However, in his five appearances for Argentina’s U20 team, he scored four goals, so there’s that.
The fact of the matter is that Icardi has been given an opportunity with his national team to showcase his skills in an attempt to lock in a spot in Russia. He will have to show his value on and off the field to secure that spot. That is something that Messi will have little control over.
What do you think? Post your comments below!