Argentina face Mexico twice this month as Lionel Scaloni looks to further his claims to be named national team manager on a permanent basis but after a couple of injury set-backs, two new faces have been added to the squad.
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga has impressed this season while deputising for number one Hugo Lloris and has been joined the group of three already named – Sergio Romero, Gerónimo Rulli and Agustín Marchesín.
Despite making only six appearances in all competitions as Spurs’ number two, Gazzaniga earns his first Argentina call up and given the clear lack of options in the position for the Albiceleste there is no reason the 26-year-old couldn’t become a more regular fixture in the squad.
Born in Murphy, the same town as Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, Gazzaniga came through the ranks at Valencia but was released before making his senior debut. Spells with Gillingham, Southampton and Rayo Vallecano followed before to his move to Spurs last year.
With Sergio Romero racking up close to 100 appearances as an almost permanent substitute at club level and Franco Armani yet to cement his place as Argentina’s number one, there is still an opportunity.
And while there was no injury to prompt Gazzaniga’s call, the rise of Gastón Giménez to the Albiceleste squad is no less impressive.
Lionel Scaloni saw Rodrigo Battaglia suffer a cruciate knee ligament injury last week playing for Sporting CP, waits on the fitness of Racing Club youngster Matías Zaracho and is already without the services of any River Plate pair Exequiel Palacios and Gonzalo Martínez and so in an effort to bolster his midfield has handed Giménez a chance.
The 27-year-old was still playing for lower league club Almirante Brown four years ago and after a brief spell with Atlético Tucumán it was in Mendoza, where Giménez’s talents became known to a wider audience.
A short stint at Estudiantes saw the midfielder join Vélez Sarsfield in July and Giménez has quickly become an integral part of Gabriel Heinze’s side.
An energetic ball winner and efficient passer of the ball, Giménez has been the perfect foil for a number of Vélez’s younger players and his ability to drop back in between the centre backs to initiate attacks has been vital.
Whether Giménez has any long term future in the Argentina squad remains to be seen and when Scaloni has everyone available he will likely drop back down the pecking order but there have been few better defensive midfielders in the Superliga this season.