Mauro Icardi, the joint top goalscorer in Italy’s Serie A this season, was left out of Argentina’s World Cup squad on Monday as coach Jorge Sampaoli named his 23 players for next month’s tournament in Russia.
Sampaoli named just four forwards in his squad with Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain all selected.
That meant there was no place for Icardi, who scored 29 league goals for Inter Milan this season.
The squad is talented but inexperienced, with the 14 players never having been to a World Cup before, and it is not immediately clear how Argentina will line-up for their first game, against Iceland on Saturday 16 June.
Although Argentina boast some of world football’s most prolific strikers, they have struggled for goals in competitive matches, scoring just 19 times in the South American group’s 18 qualifying matches. Only Bolivia scored fewer.
“We’ve decided on these names after a lot of analysis in every position,” said Sampaoli. ”Cristian Ansaldi can play on either side. Meza gives you options either on the outside or on the inside of the pitch.
“I spoke with Messi and I saw him as very enthusiastic for what’s coming up. Physically, he’s doing well. Sergio Aguero has been training normally since last week. Mercado won’t have any problems. We will see how Biglia arrives.”
Argentina, who lost in the World Cup final four years ago but only qualified for this year’s tournament thanks to a win in their final qualifying match, have been drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.