Times are changing for Argentina and the future is uncertain. After the oldest average squad in Russia bombed out of the World Cup in the last 16, interim coach Lionel Scaloni is overseeing something of a rebirth and with the average age already driven down to a shade over 25, former international outcast Mauro Icardi is one of the more experienced members of the group.
Only 25 himself, Icardi is hardly the wise, experienced veteran for the youngsters to learn from and his paltry six Argentina appearances are testament to that. However, the Inter captain has a wealth of senior experience in Europe, has already twice been Serie A’s Capocannoniere and is one of the few in Scaloni’s squad with genuine star quality.
This brings with it a degree of responsibility and in the absence of Lionel Messi and the generation of what-might-have-beens, Icardi assumes something of a leaders role.
A prolific goalscorer in Italy, it’s not been an easy start to life in an Argentina shirt for Icardi and the 25-year-old is desperate to celebrate his first international goal.
“I hope it comes now,” Icardi told reporters at the Ezeiza training complex on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
“I hope it is soon but I am calm about that.”
And despite increasing pressure for Icardi to bring his club form to Argentina, the number nine is right to remain at ease for now.
“I started this season at Inter without scoring goals, and in Italy that topic was also discussed … I am the striker, the one who has to make the goals, and I try here with the National Team to look for that and give my best.”
Forced to wait more than three years after his debut under Alejandro Sabella in 2013, Icardi was handed an opportunity by Jorge Sampaoli but with Argentina facing a battle to qualify for the World Cup, the environment to produce was less than ideal.
A couple of misfiring qualifiers saw Icardi drop down the pecking order once more and despite making Sampaoli’s preliminary squad there was no space on the plane to Russia.