Мauro Icardi has simply been one of the deadliest strikers in Europe throughout the last couple of seasons. 29, 24, 16, 22 - those are the number of Serie A goals that the Argentinian scored in the last four years,and yet he has managed just three appearances for his country during this period.
This clearly shows the quality that The Albiceleste possessin attack, and considering that Argentina’s forwardsfor the World Cup includeLionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero, it is highly unlikely that somebody would question their inclusion in the team.
However, Jorge Sampaoli’s decision to pick just four forwards looks a bit bizarre, especially considering that Messi and Dybala usually operate from a deeper position. This means that Higuain and Aguero are the only two classic strikers in his selection, which is something that might prove costly.
Considering that many Argentina fans have labeled Il Pipita as a ‘big-game choker’ due to his memorable misses in crucial moments, as well as Aguero’s fitness issues, including a fifth striker in the 23-man list would’ve really made sense. Especially if it is a player of Icardi’s calibre.
The ex-Sampdoria striker’s efficiency in front of goal is absolutely lethal, as his 29.1% shot conversion rate is the highest amongst all goalscorers in the top five leagues in Europe. This means that Icardi not only scores plenty of goals, but he rarely misses chances - a quality that makes him a perfect weapon for any team, even if coming on as a sub.
In order for the non-regular Serie A viewers to understand just how deadly the Inter man is, they just need to take a look at Messi’s shot conversion rate, which is 15.5%. Thatis almost half Icardi’s stats and while, unlike the Nerazzuri’s captain, Messi’s responsibilities are not only related to scoring goals, Icardi’s numbers are just too good to be ignored.
With 29 Serie A strikes in 34 appearances, Icardi has just completed his most prolific campaign. Inter’s dramatic qualification for next year’s Champions League is a huge morale and motivation boost and,despite being ignored throughout the majority of Sampaoli’s reign, there is little doubt that the Nerazzurri captain was hoping to be on the plane to Russia this summer.
Considering Messi, Dybala and even Aguero’s ability to operate from deeper positions, Icardi could’ve been called up as well. Despite being far from a finished article, the Inter man simply boosts different qualities than the aforementioned trio, while his numbersshowhis positioning, movevementoff the ball and finishing are arguably better than theirs.
Add to that the inclusion of inconsistent and less prolific attack-minded players like Maximiliano Meza, Manuel Lanzini, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Pavon, and Sampaoli’s decision to snub Icardi looks even more bizarre. Actually, leaving out the deadliest striker in Europe’s top leagues is not bizarre - it is simply wrong, isn’t it?