Five Players Argentina Manager Jorge Sampaoli Regrets Not Taking to Russia

Jorge Sampaoli

Argentina’s national football team is having one of its worst performance ever in a World Cup tournament after drawing 1-1 to Iceland and losing 3-0 to Croatia in the group stage.

Still, the “Albiceleste” squad has one more chance to advance to the Round of 16 and put away all the criticism they have already if they beat Nigeria in a win or go-home game on June 26.

Five Players Jorge Sampaoli Regrets Not Having in Russia for the World Cup 

The lack of leadership, the doubts in defense and the vulnerability in the midfield makes Argentina an exposed team and right now is uncertain if they can reach the final for the second World Cup in a row.

The coach Jorge Sampaoli trusts in the 23-man list he made one week before the World Cup kick-off, but there some players that easily could have made the team and Sampaoli probably regrets of not including them.

Mauro Icardi is among the players that got snubbed in the Argentina squad as he finished as one of the best strikers in Europe last season.

But Icardi is not the only remarkable player Sampaoli left at home, and here are the five players Argentina is missing in Russia:

1. Mauro Icardi

It seems this was the time for the 25-year-old striker to participate in his first World Cup. However, Sampaoli decided to include Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero instead.

Argentina has struggled to score during the current World Cup despite having one of the best forwards on the planet. That is when Icardi would have been productive for them.

Icardi ended Italy’s Serie A 2017/18 season as the top goalscorer with 29 goals, his best record since joining Inter Milan. Nevertheless, that was not enough to make the final list and represent his country in the World Cup.

Icardi can score in all ways possible; he scores headers, shots from outside the box and has a killer instinct that makes him a complete striker. Somehow Sampaoli left him out of the squad, which was possibly his most questionable omission.

Argentinean football icon Juan Sebastian Veron severely criticised Sapaoli’s decision to exclude Icardi from the squad as he said it was inexplicable the Inter Milan’s forward was not playing in Russia.

2. Érik Lamela

Sampaoli did not include the Tottenham midfielder in the 35-man preliminary list, but Lamela is without a doubt one of the best Argentinean players.

Lamela has one thing Argentina needs desperately: explosiveness, maybe he only played 25 games this season with the Spurs because of his hip injury, but Lamela’s vision of the game is what makes him so valuable.

He delivered seven assists this during the recently ended season and only scored four goals. Even so, he is an attacking midfielder that could do better than Angel Di Maria has done so far in the tournament.

Lamela could have been a good fit alongside Lionel Messi and Icardi on the pitch as he can also play as a right wing, but Maximiliano Meza, Manuel Lanzini, and Eduardo Salvio have this place already.

3. Diego Perotti

Perotti is another player Sampaoli is probably regretting to not have on the list; he is a complete forward who was aiming to play his first World Cup.

At 29 years old, the AS Roma striker was ready to form a deadly forward line together with Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi, but he could not make the final 23-man list.

Perotti is a player who can easily bother the opposing defense by the manner he plays. It’s not only his ability to score that makes him dangerous. He can also create chances for teammates and be productive on the pitch assisting too.

Perotti scored eight goals in 35 games he played this season in Italy’s Serie A and delivered five assists.

While Argentina tries to find the goal in every game, Perotti would have been an exceptional option for Sampaoli.

4. Lautaro Martínez

Lautaro Martínez is another young player that got snubbed while having tremendous form coming from the Argentinean league.

At 20 years old, he proved he has enough talent to shine at football’s highest stage, but Sampaoli did not think the same thing.

Martínez’s outstanding performance this season with Racing Club earned him a five-year, €25 million contract with Inter Milan and the Italian club knows they signed a rising world-class player.

Martínez scored 17 goals in 25 games with the Argentinean club and his time with the senior national team seemed to be close.

In fact, he played two friendlies this year before Sampaoli sacked him from the final squad.

He was the joint-top scorer at the 2017 South American Youth Football Championship with five goals and also participated in the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Lautaro has shown he can embarrass any defensive system as he has the skills to score inside or outside of the box.

5. Ramiro Funes Mori

Funes Mori is a player who deserved to make the final list to Russia and play in his first World Cup but any competitive rhythm this season affected him.

The 27-year-old defender looked very well in the defense side along with Nicolas Otamendi as the center-back pair; however, Sampaoli left him out as he had played in the Copa America Centenario two years ago.

The lack of minutes this season with Everton affected Funes Mori and that probably made Sampaoli exclude him from the final 23-man roster.

Funes Mori played as Argentina’s first choice center-back for most of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualification run. However, in March last year, he suffered a knee injury that kept him off the field for 14 months.

Sampaoli knew Funes Mori was unlikely to be ready for Russia, so the coach decided to left him out.

It’s a shame for Argentina that Funes Mori is not playing, of course. He is not the best defender in the world or one of the greatest in Argentina history. But he can provide a great fit to his national team playing as a left wing too.

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