And then there were 26.
Sabella announced that he has chopped off 4 from the list of 30 released last week. A couple of call up were strange in the very first place, and now their omission, even before the start of camp seems even more bizarre. The 4 players released are Franco Di Santo, Gabriel Mercado, Fabian Rinaudo , and Lisandro Lopez.
About the sacrifices
Franco Di Santo , the striker from Bremen, being out would warm the cockles of many Albiceleste fans hearts. With an imposing frame of 6ft 2″ and little else to offer in terms of actual footballing ability, Di Santo was called into the squad a few times by Sabella. Though it was a known fact that Sabella would stick to 5 strikers in the squad of 23 (Higuain, Aguero, Messi, Lavezzi, Palacio), Di Santo briefly threatened to spoil the party by literally being the tall kid amongst dwarfs demanding a ride.
Gabriel Mercado was a curious call-up into the preliminary list, having never been summoned by Sabella prior to this. A right-back plying his trade with River Plate , Mercado was a back-up option for Zabaleta. A bit of internet snooping revealed what one needed to know – Mercado was a former Estudiantes player, which now makes perfect sense, given Sabella’s fetish for players from the aforementioned club. Sabella probably feels comfortable with the form and fitness of Hugo Campagnaro as a back-up option, and hence has done away with The Merc.
Fabian Rinaudo was next to come in and go. This lad is a direct substitute for Mascherano, playing the destroyer role with aplomb for Sporting in the Portugese league before promptly getting injured. Earlier this year, he was loaned out to Catania, which is seemingly where many Argentine back-ups ply their trades. Of course, there can only be 1 Mascherano. This also indicates to me that Gago and Banega’s fitness levels may be improving, and hence Sabella doesn’t feel the need to include another defensive midfielder.
Lisandro Lopez- the defender- is the last to get the cut. This young man shot to fame as a tall, fairly competent CB with Arsenal (of the Argentine variety). Not to be confused with his name-sake, who was once immensely popular, and high on the fan’s list to be called up, but is now hanging about in Qatar.
All this implies a couple of things:
1. As stated before, the news about Gago’s and Banega’s injuries could be greatly exaggerated.
2. This opens the door for Martin I-am-not-as-fast-as-a-snail-but-fuck-it-I-won-the-EPL-bitches Demichelis to make his way back into the WC team! Sabella stated here that he was supremely impressed with the season that Demi had with the EPL champs. I wouldn’t bet against it.