Javier Zanetti: Mauro Icardi deserved to go to the World Cup

Inter Milan vice-president Javier Zanetti has said that club-captain Mauro Icardi deserved to go to the summer World Cup with Argentina after another solid season with the Nerazzurri. The Argentine striker notched 29 goals for the San Siro outfit during the 2017/18 campaign and his efforts played a huge role in the club securing Champions League qualification after a six-year wait.
As such, Zanetti has admitted that Icardi deserved to make the World Cup squad for Argentina irrespective of him being the first-choice or not, he said: “Mauro deserved to be at the World Cup, beyond everything he has done for Inter during these years. He scored more than twenty goals a season in recent years, then he made himself ready for the national team when called upon: he deserved a chance, even if not as first choice. He has been left feeling bad about it as he hoped right until the very end that he would get a chance.”

Meanwhile, there have been reports in the Argentine press suggesting that the move was influenced by non-footballing reasons but Zanetti has rebuffed the claims by suggesting that manager Jorge Sampaoli made a ‘purely technical decision’ to go with the experience of Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain upfront.

Argentina have had issues with the defensive side of their game which has hampered their performances over the past year and they only managed to reach the World Cup finals thanks to the superlative effort of Lionel Messi. Back in October 2018, Argentina found themselves down 1-0 in a must-win game against Ecuador but Messi came to the rescue with a splendid hat-trick, which secured their World Cup berth in the final qualifying game. Argentina begin their World Cup campaign against Iceland on Saturday before tackling Croatia and Nigeria in their remaining group stage games.