Argentina’s World Cup preparations have taken a further blow with the news that midfielder Manuel Lanzini has suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury in training and will miss the tournament.

The 25-year-old was set for a starting role within Jorge Sampaoli’s side despite making only three Argentina appearances but the Albiceleste will now be forced to bring a replacement to Russia.

With goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán already drafted in to replace the injured Sergio Romero, Argentina have now lost two of their likely starting eleven.

Two years ago, Lanzini suffered a knee injury that ruled him out of the Olympics and saw Cristian Pavón handed his place, and on Friday morning the former River Plate playmaker was dealt another cruel blow.

Argentina’s official Twitter account confirming: “Manuel Lanzini suffered, in today’s morning training, the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee.”

Lanzini scored five goals last season in 29 appearances for West Ham and after scoring in the friendly victory over Italy in March, Sampaoli spoke of his importance.

With Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Angel Di María, Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Pavón, Maxi Meza and Eduardo Salvio as the existing midfield options in the squad, Sampaoli has a difficult decision now to replace Lanzini’s quite unique set of skills.

A vital linking player, able to add creativity and track back to win the ball, Lanzini looked to have an important role in balancing the Argentina side and now Sampaoli is likely left to choose between a more defensive replacement or another more attacking option.

Sampaoli’s choice doesn’t need to come from the preliminary 35-man squad and the possibilities being floated at present are Leandro Paredes, Enzo Pérez, Pablo Pérez, Guido Pizarro, Diego Perotti, Erik Lamela and Matías Kranevitter.


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