Agüero struggling? Icardi back in? Sampaoli’s World Cup number nine gamble

Jorge Sampaoli’s number nine plans have been thrown into disarray with the news that Sergio Agüero is a huge doubt in the race for Russia 2018

Jorge Sampaoli has his 35-man World Cup squad already in mind, Racing Club striker Lautaro Martínez pays him a visit at the national team training complex to receive some instructions and discuss his possible role.

The plane tickets are booked to travel to Europe the following week, where Sampaoli would in turn speak with Sergio Agüero and Gonzalo Higuaín and everything for Argentina looked set.

If those three were indeed Sampaoli’s chosen number nine options then it appeared that Mauro Icardi was the odd man out. An unfairly brief trial during the back-end of a fraught qualifying campaign was hardly the best window for the Inter captain to showcase his talents but Sampaoli had seen enough.

Argentina looked to be heading to Russia relying on the familiar faces of Agüero and Higuaín with young upstart Martínez gate-crashing the party.

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