Enzo Pérez may not excite but is the best option to replace injured Lanzini in Argentina squad


Argentina have called up River Plate midfielder and veteran of the 2014 World Cup campaign Enzo Pérez as a replacement for the injured Manuel Lanzini.

Lanzini ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in training on Friday and after weighing up the midfield options, Argentina have opted for Pérez.

The 32-year-old has 23 caps for Argentina, having featured three times under Alejandro Sabella at the World Cup in Brazil, including the semi-final and final and recently came into the side for the decisive win over Ecuador in qualifying.

“It’s a shame that I’m going because of the injury of a teammate but I travel to Russia to make a huge effort,” Pérez told TyC Sports ahead of his call-up.

“Now I must wake-up from this dream.”

While Pérez is unlikely to cause much excitement among supporters or strike fear into opposition, the experienced midfielder was the best option available to Jorge Sampaoli.

This experience and familiarity with much of the squad will require no period of acclimatisation and despite not perhaps standing out Pérez does the simple things with great efficiency.

Lanzini undoubtedly had an important role in Sampaoli’s system, providing a vital link between the midfield and attack and adding a creative outlet alongside Messi but with no like-for-like replacement available, Sampaoli was forced to rethink the overall squad.

Maxi Meza looks most likely to start on the right hand side, a position he is well accustomed to for Independiente, and with Cristian Pavón, Paulo Dybala and Eduardo Salvio all able to provide attacking options on that flank, Argentina were left short centrally.

Enzo Pérez is a versatile midfield option that Sabella also used in a variety of positions – comfortable playing in the middle as a box-to-box type or on the right of a midfield four, as he did four years ago.

16 starts for River Plate in the Superliga this season, Pérez was far from his best but when called upon last October by Sampaoli, the former Valencia midfielder was outstanding.

Hard-working, a decent ball winner, efficient passer and a willing runner from deep, Pérez may not start but provides useful cover in a number of positions.

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