Mauro Icardi is set to be a shock exclusion from the Argentina squad for this summer’s World Cup, according to reports in his homeland.
TyC Sports (h/t Football Italia) has claimed that the hotshot striker has lost out to wonderkid Lautaro Martinez in the race to be named in the 23-man party for the international tournament in Russia in June and July.
Argentina head coach Jorge Sampaoli is thought to have drawn up a 35-man shortlist for his initial squad, but will need to whittle that down by 12 stars before he names his final squad to fly out to the Russia next month.
And Icardi, who has plundered 24 goals in just 29 matches for Inter this season, is not thought to be in the running for a striker’s berth in Sampaoli’s final decision as the manager seems certain to include Martinez instead.
Martinez is set to ironically join I Nerazzurri in the close season after the Serie A side came to an agreement with his current club Racing to sign the 20-year-old attacker ahead of other interested parties such as Arsenal.
Icardi has only featured four times for his national team’s senior side, but three of those caps had come in September and October after he made a blistering start to life at San Siro this term.
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Despite his impressive goalscoring form for Luciano Spalletti’s team, however, he appears set to miss out on taking to the world stage to showcase his talents.
Argentina are expected to call up Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala as three of their striking options as they go in search of winning a third World Cup in their history.
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And with only one other place up for grabs, Martinez – who has 13 goals in 18 appearances for Racing this season – could pip Icardi to the fourth and final space in that contingent.