Heartbreaking ACL injury recurrence for Zenit defender Emanuel Mammana

Once considered Argentina’s great defensive hope, Emanuel Mammana can put thoughts of breaking into Lionel Scaloni’s squad to the back of his mind for the foreseeable future after a cruel recurrence of the knee injury suffered last year.

Stretchered off early in Zenit St. Petersburg’s victory over Ural last Sunday, the Russian club have now confirmed that Mammana has suffered a partial rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The 23-year-old will go to see a specialist for a further examination but could be facing another eight months on the sidelines.

It was only March 2018 when Mammana ruptured ligaments in the same knee and while that injury ruined any hopes of making Jorge Sampaoli’s World Cup squad, the former River Plate defender’s latest setback is devastating.

Clearly on the radar of Lionel Scaloni given his inclusion in the squad for the friendlies against Mexico last November, Mammana has only featured four times for Zenit this season but still harboured ambitions of adding to his three international appearances ahead of an important 2020.

If the continued use of Marcos Rojo and Nicolás Otamendi is proof of anything it is that Argentina remain short of options in defence and although Mammana’s move to Europe hasn’t been a roaring success, there had always been hope that at 23 there remained time for his development into a starting role.

That of course isn’t out of the question but another serious injury at this point of Mammana’s career puts any such plans on the back burner.

Mammana though has proved himself to be a resolute young man, overcoming the adversity of losing both parents at a young age to shine for River and make his international debut in 2014 before even kicking a ball at senior club level.

The cameo under Alejandro Sabella ahead of the 2014 World Cup and subsequently captaining Argentina under-20s to the Sudamericano title in 2015 all helped establish Mammana as one of the Albiceleste’s brightest prospects.

So it was no real surprise when the elegant, ball-playing defender became a part of Marcelo Gallardo’s River set-up. Often covering at right-back Mammana helped Los Millonarios to the Copa Sudamericana, the first trophy in the glittering Gallardo-era and a year later, the first of the Copa Libertadores triumphs.

Olympique Lyonnais swooped for Mammana and after a solid debut year the French club doubled their money as Zenit went on an Argentine spree. Leandro Paredes joined in the same window and one need only look at the PSG midfielder’s vital role in the Argentina starting eleven now to see the cruel difference in fortune of the two young talents.

Zenit and Mammana now wait for official confirmation of the injury from a specialist but an extended spell out looks inevitable. The player, the club, the national team and supporters will all be hoping for another speedy recovery and that Mammana can finally reach his vast potential.

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