Despite his outstanding club form over the past year Ángel Di María’s international career appeared over, a casualty of the team’s failures and coach Lionel Scaloni’s desire to bring through a new generation. Yet late on Thursday night, Argentina named the latest squad for this month’s World Cup qualifiers and El Fideo was back.
A perfect start to qualification in October, Argentina continue the long journey towards Qatar 2022 with matches against Paraguay on November 12th at La Bombonera and Peru five days later in Lima.
The return of Di María has been much talked about in recent weeks but was still the main talking point from Scaloni’s latest announcement.
The Paris Saint-Germain winger has not been part of the Argentina squad since the 2019 Copa América but with 14 assists and 8 goals in Ligue 1 last term and a role in helping the French champions to the Champions League final, Scaloni has given another opportunity.
Roberto Pereyra is also handed a return to international duty after his move back to Udinese during the most recent transfer window while Sergio Agüero continues to miss out through injury.
Although the Manchester City striker suffered yet another setback, Scaloni does welcome back Giovani Lo Celso, Agustín Marchesín, Paulo Dybala and Walter Kannemann who all missed October’s double-header.
The real question marks as ever lie in defence. Nicolás Otamendi remains a central part of Argentina’s plans in the short-term and there remains no place for Marcos Senesi nor Lisandro Martínez even as options in the squad.
However, more specifically the issue is at right-back. Gonzalo Montiel will be added once Scaloni includes the domestic players but the River Plate defender will be the only natural player in that position with both Juan Foyth and Renzo Saravia injured.
With that in mind three further options could be included from the local players – Boca Juniors’ Julio Buffarini, Independiente’s Fabricio Bustos and River Plate’s Milton Casco.
The need for Argentina’s next great full-back has never been more apparent.