Lucas Alario makes surprise return to Argentina squad for friendlies

Despite not featuring for Argentina in over two years, Lucas Alario has been handed a surprise return by Lionel Scaloni ahead of next month’s friendlies against Chile and Mexico.

The 26-year-old striker has made only two brief substitute appearances for Bayer Leverkusen so far this season but with attacking players already missing and Argentina wary of others potentially being involved in transfers late in the European window, Scaloni has opted to bring in Alario for cover.

Argentina play Chile in Los Angeles on September 5th before travelling to San Antonio to take on Mexico five days later with Lautaro Martínez and Adolfo Gaich the only two other number nines named in the squad previously.

Paulo Dybala, one of the other options in attack, and currently on Scaloni’s list represents one of the transfer concerns for Argentina.

With the European transfer window closing a few days before the Chile game on September 2nd and Dybala still linked with a move away from Juventus there is the possibility of the player requiring time to conclude any such deal and therefore not being with the group ahead of the match.

In order to avoid any such disruption it is understood that this is the thinking behind Alario’s late inclusion to the squad.

For Alario it’s a tremendous opportunity and given his lack of playing time at this early stage of the Bundesliga season and increased competition for Argentina it is one that didn’t look likely to come back round so soon.

Not since a friendly against Singapore in June 2017 has Alario featured for Argentina, on that occasion scoring his only international goal at the beginning of Jorge Sampaoli’s tenure.

The optimism of that time quickly disappeared and so too did Alario’s chances under Sampaoli but there was a time under Edgardo Bauza when Pipa looked as though he could be a long-term option for La Albiceleste.

Handed his debut back in 2016 for a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay and played out of position by Bauza with Argentina down to ten men, Alario would feature again a few days later in a draw with Venezuela. At this point in his career the Colón academy product had helped River Plate lift the Copa Libertadores and since making that significant move to the Monumental proved himself to be the player for the big occasion.

A move to Bayer Leverkusen followed in 2017 and while Alario has continued to score goals his opportunities at international level have diminished.

This new call-up could just be circumstantial but if Alario could take his chance and start scoring regularly in the Bundesliga, he could apply pressure on those currently favourites to occupy the place in the squad.

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