Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli says he has not closed the door on Sergio Aguero’s international career.
Aguero, 29, who has scored 33 goals in 82 appearances for the national team, was left out of Argentina’s latest squad for the international friendlies against Brazil and Singapore.
El Grafico newspaper questioned if Aguero’s omission would be “temporary or a constant” but Sampaoli, who took over the national team last week and signed a five-year contract, said as reported in La Nacion newspaper: “We know Aguero very well and we value what he has done at Manchester City and he will be evaluated and taken into account in the future.
“Competition in his position is very tough because there are three or four outstanding players.
“We will talk to him and see how he feels. He can be a great contributor for us.”
The Manchester City forward scored 20 goals and set up three more in 31 Premier League appearances this season but lost his starting place in Argentina’s squad.
Aguero came off the bench in a 2-0 defeat at Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier on March 29, an outcome that placed the Albiceleste’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Russia in jeopardy and ultimately resulted in the sacking of coach Edgardo Bauza.
He scored just one goal in five appearances, only one as a starter, in last summer’s Copa America, which saw Argentina lose on penalties to a Chile team coached by Sampaoli in the final.
Ole newspaper did a poll on March 30 asking fans to choose which players of the national team they wanted dropped from the squad and 86 percent of the 80,000 people that voted wanted Aguero out. Only Ezequiel Lavezzi, who plays for Hebei CFFC in the Chinese Super League, got more votes than Aguero to not be called to the national team with 88 percent.
In the same poll, fans voted Juventus forward Paulo Dybala ahead of Barcelona star Lionel Messi as the first player that should be included in Sampaoli’s Argentina squad.
Dybala and Messi are both training with the squad in preparation for Friday’s friendly against Brazil in Melbourne, Sampaoli’s first game in charge.
“Messi and Dybala are both very important for Argentina,” Sampaoli added.
Taking Argentina’s top job, meanwhile, has allowed Sampaoli to achieve his aim of coaching Messi, a five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, and the experience so far has “exceeded expectations.”
“I’ve found a player that has a lot of desire to play for the national team,” Sampaoli said. “He is a reference.
“I had talks with him that allowed me to know that he is deeply committed for Argentina to reach the World Cup.
“Leo is very simple, humble and a good teammate. He is very positive. As a football leader he can help a lot.”