There is little about how Lionel Scaloni conducts himself that suggests interim coach. The 40-year-old confidently explains his vision for Argentina and despite what Diego Maradona may have had to say, Scaloni very much appears to be auditioning for the role on a permanent basis.
Scaloni named his second Argentina squad last week ahead of the October friendlies against Iraq and Brazil in Saudi Arabia and spoke to the media on Monday from the national training ground at Ezeiza.
After Maradona had said “[Lionel] Scaloni is a good guy but he couldn’t direct traffic,” there was one obvious subject but that was one topic that Argentina’s interim boss stayed well clear of.
Instead, as is always the case, the whereabouts of Lionel Messi was the pressing issue after the world’s best player was once more left out of the Argentina squad.
“I spoke with Messi about ten days ago, after the talk we made the final decision he is not to be called up,” Scaloni confirmed to the press.
“We do not talk about what could happen in a while, we talked about how the team played because honestly Leo sees everything.
“But not beyond that because in my head we have not planned more than six games. We don’t touch on the Copa América.”
And so it is a similar Argentina squad to the one that defeated Guatemala and drew with Colombia in the United States last month. Messi and many of the World Cup squad remain outside but there was a recall for Manchester City defender Nicolás Otamendi.
“Otamendi’s call-up is because we believe he is an acceptable player for the national team. He spoke with him and explained what we want,” Scaloni admitted.
Certainly Otamendi’s inclusion boosts an area of obvious weakness for Argentina and while there is still no place for his City teammate Sergio Agüero, with the likes of Mauro Icardi, Lautaro Martínez and Giovanni Simeone, La Albiceleste remain well stocked in attack.
“His level is not surprising, it is the same as always, but I didn’t speak with him,” Scaloni explained regarding Agüero’s tremendous start to the new season.
In discussing Agüero, along with the likes of Angel Di María and Ever Banega, the new coach was clear: “There is nothing strange. At this time we want to call the same players because we want to continue watching and assessing whether or not they can continue playing for the national team.
“All of them have the possibility of being called [in the future].”