Argentina have called up River Plate midfielder Enzo Perez as a last-minute replacement for injured Manuel Lanzini, the Argentine Football Association said on Saturday.
West Ham midfielder Lanzini, 25, had been linked with a summer transfer to Liverpool, but he now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines. His injury is a blow for Sampaoli who had counted on Lanzini for a place in his starting line-up, with Lucas Biglia and Ever Banega also carrying minor knocks. Lanzini dropped out of Argentina’s World Cup squad on Friday after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
The 32-year-old Perez, a former Valencia and Benfica player, has played 23 internationals for Argentina, was called up by Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli. He last played for Argentina year ago.
Argentina players including Javier Mascherano and Marcos Rojo tweeted their sympathy for Lanzini, who faced heartbreak on the eve of the tournament in Russia.
Meanwhile Argentina, brought its stay at training ground of FC Barcelona, to an end. Lionel Messi has said Argentina are well prepared for the World Cup and highlighted their individual quality as key. “We have been preparing very well throughout our training camp,” the Barcelona forward said. “We have great players on an individual level and we will fight as an equal to any team, even if we are not the favourites.”
Argentina’s World Cup preparations were thrown into turmoil as the AFA took a last-minute decision not to play Israel in a pre-tournament friendly.
Argentina who won World Cup two time world champions twice in 1978 and 1986, and finalists in Brazil four years ago, faces Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in the Group D in Russia. Argentina starts World Cup campaign against Iceland on June 16 at the Spartak Stadium.