Racing’s Renzo Saravia given Argentina chance after injuries to Mercado and Salvio

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There are a number of less recognisable names among Argentina’s new look squad travelling to the United States for friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia and Racing Club full-back Renzo Saravia can be added to that list after his late inclusion on Sunday.

Interim coach Lionel Scaloni was hit with the news that Gabriel Mercado and Eduardo Salvio would be unavailable due to injury and so having been left short of options at right-back, Argentina turned to Saravia.

The 25-year-old has been in fine form for Racing and resolved what was something of a weakness for La Academia at full-back prior to Eduardo Coudet becoming manager.

Saravia had been linked to the squad in the discussions surrounding Argentina post-World Cup 2018 but when Scaloni named Gabriel Mercado, Eduardo Salvio, Fabricio Bustos and Leonel Di Plácido, La Albiceleste were well stocked in the position.

However, Mercado fractured a bone in his arm during Sevilla’s derby defeat to Real Betis on Sunday and Eduardo Salvio was forced off with an ankle injury during Benfica’s 4-0 win over Nacional, in which the winger had earlier scored.

Bustos, for all his potential remains untested and Di Plácido was arguably the biggest surprise in Scaloni’s squad so adding Saravia as another option to look at more closely seems like a sensible idea.

The 25-year-old attacking full-back was closely linked with Gerardo Martino’s Olympic squad in 2016 while still at Belgrano but was eventually overlooked in favour of one-time Argentina full-back José Luis Gómez.

At the time, Saravia had established himself with boyhood club Belgrano as one of the best prospects in Argentina but it took some time to earn his place in the Racing Club eleven after moving on an initial loan deal a little over a year ago.

Despite switching Córdoba for Avellaneda in July 2017, Diego Cocca regularly overlooked Saravia and it took an injury to Iván Pillud in November for the right-back to make his debut.

It took the arrival of the far more attacking coach Eduardo Coudet in at the end of the year for Saravia to finally stake his claim as first choice and the Villa de María native has never looked back.

Able to provide the width to attack with pace down the right while performing his defensive duties admirably Racing paid the already agreed $1 million fee for 50% of Saravia’s contract that made the move permanent.

As Coudet’s side have continued to improve over the last year Saravia has been a central, if somewhat understated, component in that and his inclusion in an albeit experimental Argentina squad is proof of that.

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