Messi to miss friendlies as Argentina renew squad

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Buenos Aires (Argentina), Aug 18 (IANS) Barcelona star Lionel Messi will miss Argentina’s upcoming friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia as interim coach Lionel Scaloni revamps the national squad after a disappointing World Cup.

Only nine players who went to Russia were included in a 23-man list released by the Argentine Football Association on Friday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Messi’s absence had been expected following widespread media reports that he requested a break from the national team. Also missing were Paris Saint-Germain attacker Angel Di Maria, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and AC Milan forward Gonzalo Higuain.

Among the new faces were Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez and Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone, the son of former Argentina midfielder and current Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone.

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Sevilla midfielder Franco Martinez, who played two friendlies for Italy in 2015, was also included, as was Gremio centre-back Walter Kannemann. Stuttgart midfielder Santiago Ascacibar and Real Sociedad goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli were the other uncapped players named.

Argentina face Guatemala in Los Angeles on September 7 and Colombia in New Jersey four days later.

The matches will be Argentina’s first since their fitful World Cup campaign, which included a 3-0 loss to Croatia and ended with a 4-3 defeat to eventual champions France.

Argentina squad:

Goalkeepers: Franco Armani (River), Geronimo Rulli (Real Sociedad), Sergio Romero (Manchester United).

Defenders: Fabricio Bustos (Independiente), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal), Alan Franco (Independiente), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Walter Kannemann (Gremio), Leonel Di Placido (Lanus), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon).

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Midfielders: Leandro Paredes (Zenit), Santiago Ascacibar (Stuttgart), Rodrigo Battaglia (Sporting Lisbon), Gonzalo Martinez (River), Giovani Lo Celso (PSG), Franco Cervi (Benfica), Maxi Meza (Independiente), Matias Vargas (Velez), Franco Vazquez (Sevilla), Exequiel Palacios (River).

Forwards: Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan), Giovanni Simeone (Fiorentina), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Paulo Dybala (Juventus).

–IANS

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