Jorge Sampaoli named his 22-man squad for two upcoming friendlies and while the Argentina coach admits his World Cup plans are not 100% complete, there are a few local players that he may take a closer look at this month

Lautaro Martínez

Racing Club’s prolific centre-forward is causing all the buzz right now and rightly so as Jorge Sampaoli has already witnessed two hat-tricks from his now regular position at the Cilindro in the past month.

Quick, strong and capable of scoring all sorts of goals, Lautaro Martínez is destined for big things and after stepping up at every level with Racing, looks poised for his international bow. El Toro is also close to making a switch to Inter, could he be replacing Mauro Icardi after nicking his place in the squad?


Cristian Pavón

Last November’s friendlies against Russia and Nigeria already gave Cristian Pavón a chance to impress and having taken that, Boca’s Juniors’ lightning-quick forward is set for another opportunity.

The 22-year-old may still lack awareness at times but with an eye for goal, terrifying pace and as he proved in Russia, an ability to get behind the full-back, few can offer the same qualities as Pavón.

Fabricio Bustos

Jorge Sampaoli already stated that a right-back from the Superliga would be getting a call for these friendlies and at the front of that line is Independiente’s Fabricio Bustos.

A vital part of El Rojo’s recent success, the 21-year-old has been a regular under Ariel Holan for the past year and his performances haven’t gone unnoticed. Quick, dynamic and eager to join the attack, Bustos has improved defensively and provides an option for Argentina in a position where alternatives are sparce.

Pablo Pérez

At 32 years of age, Pablo Pérez is not one for the future but may yet play a role for Argentina in the short-term. A busy, box-to-box presence that La Albiceleste at times lack, the former Newell’s Old Boys’ midfielder gets forward to contribute to the attack and battles to win back possession, even if that does attract yellow cards.

Namesake, Enzo Pérez showed how useful he was at the tail end of qualification but has dipped in form at River, while Pablo continues to thrive at Boca.

Maxi Meza

There is a reason that everyone from Sampaoli to Marcelo Gallardo have been praising Independiente for their style of play in recent weeks and following last year’s Copa Sudamericana triumph one of El Rojo’s stars has been Maxi Meza.

Independiente manager Ariel Holan demands the sort of fluidity that Sampaoli would like from his team and with Meza drifting off either wing to pull the strings behind the central striker, the 26-year-old could be a surprise inclusion before his almost inevitable European move.



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