Argentina are already far from favourites at next month’s under-20 World Cup after scraping through qualification at the Sudamericano but Claudio Úbeda may find his task all the more difficult should Independiente and other clubs prevent their players from travelling to South Korea.
Head coach Claudio Úbeda has already named his 35-man preliminary squad and is currently working with the group in Ezeiza in between their club commitments and aside from a few new faces, the vast majority are those players that finished fourth in Ecuador at the start of the year.
18-year-old playmaker Ezequiel Barco didn’t show his best for the under-20s at the Sudamericano but has returned to his club, Independiente and illustrated why he is considered one of the top young talents in the country.
Despite being the youngest member of the squad, Barco is rapidly becoming one of the most experienced, as the teenager has been been fast-tracked into the Rojo starting eleven and such is his importance that the Avellaneda giants are reluctant to allow him to play for the under-20s.
“We have made a decision: we will not give Barco,” Héctor Maldonado, Independiente’s secretary general told reporters.
Maldonado went on to further explain this decision and suggested Barco was unhappy with his treatment, presumably in Ecuador.
“The player complained of being treated badly by the coaching staff of Úbeda.”
Independiente may yet also deny Argentina the opportunity to call upon winger Gastón Togni, having not made a decision on the 19-year-old but the concern is that this could open the door for other clubs to follow.