'These are the best players Argentina have' - Scaloni defends Icardi's Copa America exclusion

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The Inter forward has been left out of his country's squad but the manager insists he has chosen the best available players

Lionel Scaloni admits it was difficult to leave players out of Argentina's 2019 Copa America squad but is confident he has chosen the country's 23 best players after snubbing Mauro Icardi.

Paulo Dybala has made the cut despite a disappointing season with Juventus, while Manchester City's Sergio Aguero has been called up for the first time since last year's dreadful World Cup campaign.

Aguero has enjoyed another strong season at club level and will be confident of transferring that form to the Copa, where he will be joined by City team-mate Nicolas Otamendi.

Lionel Messi is expected to captain the team as one of the senior stars, while Matias Suarez – also 31 years of age – is a surprise inclusion among the strikers, with the River Plate man having won his only two senior caps this year.

There is also a shock in defence, with Milton Casco chosen ahead of Gabriel Mercado, a mainstay over the past few years. Manchester United pair Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo also miss out.

And there is also no room for Inter striker Icardi after a controversial season with the Serie A club, which saw him left out of the team and stripped of the captaincy.

While conceding he had doubts during the selection process, Scaloni is now content he has a squad capable of winning the tournament for the first time since 1993.

"We believe that these are the best players we have at this moment," he told a media conference. "Some were left out due to injury, but they were always in consideration.

"When you have so many players of a good level to choose from, there are always doubts. It is difficult to explain everything, but the final decision is always about what is best for the team.

"We suffer when we have to leave a player out. It's our job, but it's not easy for us.

"We want people to identify with all these guys. We are convinced that they are the best for the moment. We are clear about what we want and we know what our idea is."

Argentina will play Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar in the group stage and Scaloni is expecting tough tests against all three.

"Colombia is one of the most powerful teams in South America; they have great players," he added.

"Paraguay is a very competitive team and Qatar won the Asian Cup by playing very well. It is going to be a complicated group."


Argentina Squad In Full


Goalkeepers:  Franco Armani (River Plate), Agustin Marchesin (Club America), Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors)

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Defenders:  Juan Foyth (Tottenham), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Renzo Saravia (Racing Club), German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal), Milton Casco (River Plate), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)

Midfielders:  Roberto Pereyra (Watford), Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcos Acuna (Sporting CP), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Guido Rodriguez (Club America), Rodrigo De Paul (Udinese), Exequiel Palacio (River Plate), Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis)

Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Matias Suarez (River Plate), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Lautaro Martinez (Inter).

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