Argentina’s 2018 World Cup squad announced: Icardi won’t travel, but Dybala will

After months of speculation, Jorge Sampaoli announced Argentina’s final 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup at lunchtime on Monday. As expected, there was no place for Mauro Icardi, who Sampaoli is said to feel struggled to integrate with the rest of the group, and who was disappointing when called up for Argentina last year. Paulo Dybala will be in Russia, though, as will Cristian Ansaldi of Juventus’ city rivals Torino. Ansaldi was a last-minute inclusion in the 35-man preliminary list announced last week after Gabriel Mercado’s injury, and although Mercado seems likely to be fit, the Torino full back has managed to win a place in the 23. At domestic level, Lautaro Martínez’s exclusion is less surprising than that of his Racing clubmate Ricardo Centurión, who has been beaten to a squad place by Independiente’s midfielder and wide man Maximiliano Meza, perhaps the only player to come out of the 6-1 defeat to Spain in March with his standing increased, after an individually impressive performance. The inclusions of River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani and Boca Juniors winger Cristian Pavón make this the first Argentina World Cup squad since 1994 to include at least one player from each of the country’s two giants.

Positions below are as given by Sampaoli/the Argentine FA in the announcement. I’ve tried to indicate where possible where a player can fulfill more than one role.

Goalkeepers
Sergio Romero (Manchester United)
Willy Caballero (Chelsea)
Franco Armani (River Plate)

Defenders
Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla)
Federico Fazio (Roma)
Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City)
Marcos Acuña (Sporting Clube de Portugal)
Nicolás Tagliafico (Ajax)
Marcos Rojo (Manchester United)
Cristian Ansaldi (Torino)

Midfielders
Eduardo Salvio (Benfica) (has been called up as an auxiliary full back recently by Sampaoli, but that’s very much not his preferred position)
Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune) (can also play centre back; it’s probably this versatility that’s kept him in the squad)
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United)
Lucas Biglia (AC Milan)
Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain)
Ángel Di María (Paris Saint-Germain)
Éver Banega (Sevilla)
Maximiliano Meza (Independiente) (can play in central midfield or as a wide forward)
Cristian Pavón (Boca Juniors)

Forwards
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)
Gonzalo Higuaín (Juventus)

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