Argentina has suffered a body blow as Lionel Scaloni’s La Albiceleste are set to push for their third World Cup win during Qatar 2022 in the wake of confirmation that key midfielder Giovani Lo Celso will miss the tournament through injury.
Reports from Argentine journalist Gastón Edul confirmed that the 26-year-old Villarreal midfielder would not partake in what is set to be Lionel Messi’s final crack at World Cup honors this winter after a necessary operation would have left him in a race against time to pass fit at some stage to play any part in the tournament.
According to Edul, “Gio Lo Celso, in addition to being a base player in the National Team, is a person very loved by all his teammates. His situation was handled with caution and respect from the selection because he continued to study and exhausted instances to be able to be.”
“The main problem is that he couldn’t avoid the operation and, even without the operation, he wasn’t going to be available for the first games. For now, Villarreal decided that he is not going to communicate anything. The situation has been known for days and was dilated.”
Lo Celso has been a key figure for Scaloni in the last two years, earning 18 of his 41 caps between 2021-22 while being a key figure in the nation’s first Copa América win since 1993.
At club level, the Rosario native has rediscovered his best form at Villarreal after struggling to make the grade at both Tottenham and PSG before that in the wake of a superb 2018-19 campaign with Real Betis.
Thankfully for Scaloni, this is the first tournament in years that Argentina is primed with a balanced squad in all areas of the pitch that is also not tactically tasked with just getting the ball to Lionel Messi and hoping for a bit of influential magic, but Lo Celso’s ability to command and control proceedings in the center of the park is undoubtedly a big miss regardless.
There are other options, of course, with the likes of Rodrigo De Paul, Guido Rodríguez, Exequiel Palacios, Alexis Mac Allister, and Leandro Paredes, but such was Lo Celso’s influence both on and off the pitch that his confirmed absence could be telling in the end.