Lionel Scaloni has confirmed his final 23-man squad for next month’s Copa América and there are few surprises as Mauro Icardi’s problems at Inter cost him his place amid the international return of Sergio Agüero and a call-up for River Plate forward Matías Suárez.
A continuation of Argentina squads post-the World Cup in Russia, Scaloni has named a squad made up of several of those relatively new faces along with the additions of veterans Agüero and Angel Di María.
A late back injury to Grêmio defender Walter Kannemann and some doubts over Germán Pezzella’s fitness saw Ramiro Funes Mori and Juan Foyth’s chances boosted as both centre backs are named in the 23 (in addition to Pezzella) but it is the inclusion of River Plate full-back Milton Casco that perhaps raises most eyebrows. The 31-year-old has had a superb year at River Plate, lifting the 2018 Copa Libertadores, but hasn’t featured for Argentina since 2015 under Gerardo Martino and wasn’t expected to be named ahead of Gabriel Mercado for the Copa América.
Leandro Paredes and Giovani Lo Celso appear to have cemented their places as Scaloni’s preferred midfield pairing and only the late injury to Racing Club youngster Matías Zaracho likely changed plans for the squad. Club América’s Guido Rodríguez rewarded for his fine form in Liga MX with a place in the group.
Teammate Agustín Marchesín took the third goalkeeper’s place ahead of Udinese’s Juan Musso but will likely leave Esteban Andrada and Franco Armani to battle it out over the number one choice.
And so it is in attack that most questions will be asked. Messi and Agüero joined by Paulo Dybala, ending speculation that the Juventus forward would be left out and Lautaro Martínez and Matías Suárez complete the line-up.
Martínez preferred to club teammate Mauro Icardi, leaving the controversial centre forward on the outside for another major tournament after problems off the pitch undoubtedly impacted Scaloni’s decision and Suárez nicking a place after a bright cameo in the previous friendly and his ability to offer something a little different. The 31-year-old is not one for the future but can drop in and link play in a way that Icardi cannot and Scaloni must feel that with Agüero and Lautaro the number nine berth is full.