Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli says he called up Mauro Icardi over Gonzalo Higuain as he wants a more rounded attacking player against Uruguay and Venezuela.
Inter star Icardi has only one senior cap for his country, which came in 2013, despite registering 82 goals and 22 assists in 148 games for the San Siro club.
Juventus striker Higuain was the surprise omission from Sampaoli’s squad for the crucial World Cup qualifiers over the next 10 days, which Argentina are desperate to win to boost their chances of an automatic spot at the Russia 2018 finals.
Sampaoli says Icardi is better suited to his designs for the two matches than Higuain, but stressed that his international career is far from over.
“It’s to do with the analysis of what happened with the national team last time,” Sampaoli explained. “We need a striker who, as well as goals, has the characteristics of an assist-maker. That’s we why called him up.
“We’re facing a reality in which we are left outside of Russia and, with little time left, we have to take advantage of every virtue in this squad.
“When we talked with Gonzalo, we told him why we didn’t call him up. We told him that we’re hopeful of there being an argument that he can be with us again.”
Sampaoli also underlined his hope that Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala can play in the same side, with the captain cleared to play against Uruguay after his four-match ban for verbally abusing a match official was overturned by FIFA in May.
“It’s very important to know if Messi and Dybala complement each other because it would be a disadvantage for the team if they isolate themselves,” Sampaoli said.
“Leo is looking forward to playing at another World Cup. Coaching the best in the world is very important for me, to see him train, to see him move.”
Sampaoli is eager for his side to deliver a strong attacking display in Montevideo against a Uruguay team who could have Luis Suarez available, the Barcelona striker battling to be fit following a knee injury.
“The idea is to have the possibility of an Argentina team who imposes itself through a defined attacking characteristic,” he added.
“We’ve prepared for this game for a long time. The notion of talking to every player has to do with the chance of getting them to take to the pitch feeling good.
“Luis Suarez is a very valuable striker. If he plays, he can alter the system. He’s something extra Uruguay have because he’s their best footballer. Playing [Cristhian] Stuani is not the same.”
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