Lionel Messi and several other veteran players were left out of the Argentina squad Friday ahead of friendly games against Guatemala and Colombia. Argentina’s interim coach Lionel Scaloni did not call up the Barcelona star, who is reportedly considering his international future after another frustrating World Cup. Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria of Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan loan signing Gonzalo Higuain were also omitted by Scaloni. So were defender Nicolas Otamendi and midfielder Ever Banega.
Argentina plays against Guatemala on September 7 in Los Angeles and Colombia in New Jersey four days later. Scaloni chose more than 20 new faces, including young players like Boca Juniors striker Cristian Pavon and Giovanni Simeone of Italian club Fiorentina. He is the son of Diego Simeone, the current Atletico Madrid coach and former Argentina midfielder.
The squad includes Mauro Icardi, the Inter Milan striker not picked for the World Cup by former coach Jorge Sampaoli. Argentina was eliminated from the World Cup in the first knockout round by eventual champion France. Messi, who turned 31 during his fourth and possibly final World Cup, again failed to score in the knockout stages of the competition.
The Argentine Football Association has yet to announce a permanent replacement for Sampaoli.
Goalkeepers: Franco Armani (River Plate), Geronimo Rulli (Real Sociedad), Sergio Romero (Manchester United).
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Fabricio Bustos (Independiente), Leonel Di Placido (Lanus), German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Alan Franco (Independiente), Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal), Walter Kannemann (Gremio), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax).
Midfielders: Santiago Ascacibar (Stuttgart), Leandro Paredes (Zenit St. Petersburg), Rodrigo Battaglia (Sporting Lisbon), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Gerrmain), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Gonzalo Martinez (River), Franco Cervi (Benfica), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Ezequiel Palacios (River), Matias Vargas (Velez), Franco Vazquez (Sevilla).
Forwards: Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan), Giovanni Simeone (Fiorentina).