Mauro Icardi’s limited hold-up play cost him a place in the latest Argentina squad, according to head coach Edgardo Bauza, who has promised to select the Inter captain if an injury strikes one of his other forwards.
Icardi, capped just once by his country, was overlooked by Bauza for the World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Bolivia, with La Albiceleste’s attacking stocks the envy of many in world football.
Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, Angel Correa and Ezequiel Lavezzi are among Bauza’s options in the latest group, but two players in particular are ahead of Icardi in the pecking order.
“I’ve told him: ‘Be calm, if something happens to [Gonzalo] Higuain or [Lucas] Pratto, I’ll call you’,” Bauza was quoted as saying by La Nacion.
“He’s happy, calm, no problems. He said to me: ‘I’m calm’. And I repeated that he could be called up at any time, and that no one in the national team has a problem with him.
“In my opinion he’s a good finisher, [but] not a player who you can involve in the collective play of the team.
“Of the three, Pratto is the best in this aspect, it’s just he doesn’t score like Higuain. Icardi is very dangerous in the final third, he has a lot of confidence right now.
“He’s not a player who helps a lot in holding the ball.
“Will I call him for the Brazil game on June 9? Maybe, but I don’t know.”
Bauza is not enthralled with the prospect of facing Argentina’s fierce rivals in a friendly at the end of the European domestic campaign, having been beaten 3-0 by the Selecao in World Cup qualifying in November.
“I told the [Argentine Football] Federation that I wanted to go to Brazil for eight or nine days to work with the players, but even though it’s a FIFA date the European clubs won’t give me their players,” he said.
“Also, given it’s just after the end of the season the players want to go on holiday, they plan on going to the beach with their wives.
“We’re playing Brazil, we can’t change too much… if we get beaten 4-0 we’ll get slaughtered.
“I saw [Brazil coach] Tite in Europe and I said: ‘Do you want to play this match?’.
“He said no, so I told him: ‘good, let’s just play a 0-0!’. He killed himself laughing.”
Argentina are fifth in CONMEBOL qualifying, having taken 19 points from 12 matches, of which they have lost three.
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