With the match with Brazil looming and a friendly against Russia scheduled for August 12th less than a month, it seems that Gonzalo Higuain will again be left out by Diego Maradona. With that being said, it is important to examine why Maradona is excluding the former River Plate man from his squad.
The first reason appears to be that Higuain turned down a chance to go to the 2007 U20 World Cup in Canada. While I do not commend him for the decision, concentrating on Madrid has certainly helped him gain a starting place. It is also worth noting that Argentina won that tournament with Kun Aguero, Mauro Zarate (another player left out by Maradona despite a great season), Maxi Moralez, Angel Di Maria and others. Higuain also missed the 2008 Olympic Tournament, also won by Argentina with Messi, Aguero, and Di Maria leading the way. While skipping any event with the National Team should be seen as a serious offense, other players have done so and are still in the team.
Carlos Tevez asked Coco Basile to leave him out of the 2008 tour of the US and two World Cup qualifiers against Brazil and Ecuador later that summer. Tevez asked to skip a game against our biggest rival, but Maradona makes no mention of that. Juan Roman Riquelme retired from the National Team all together in 2006, but Maradona still had plans of using him. Even after he retired for a second time, Maradona has left the door open for Roman to come back if he explains to his teammates why he left them.
Although Maradona has instilled a “die for the shirt” mentality, Higuain has served his time and is deserving of joining the full National Team. Some have said that Maradona does not like the fact that Higuain thought about playing for France. He has turned down calls to the French team, and he doesn’t even speak a word of French. Therefore, it is unlikely that a man who only lived in a country for the first ten months of his life would ever consider playing for their national team.
Maradona may also hold a vendetta against River players. Although he made Javier Mascherano his captain, Esteban Cambiaso has been excluded for no apparent reason after a great season with Inter. Maradona’s hatred for River can be seen through the legal action he is taking against the club for comments the president made about Maradona’s mental condition.
Perhaps the most probable reason is that Maradona does not want to drop his pals from the squad. Messi is the best player in the world and has personified Maradona’s idea about love for the shirt. Messi fought his club in order to go to the Olympics last summer when they did everything to keep him from going, including taking legal action. Messi eventually went to Beijing and won gold, adding to the U20 World Cup he won in 2005 as the tournaments top scorer. Messi has won at every level he has played at for Argentin (U20 and U23) and now winning at the senior level seems to be the logical progression. Messi’s love for the shirt and play on the field make him untouchable.
Carlos Tevez is a player who has certainly struggled to score goals for Argentina. He has also been undisciplined receiving 2 red cars in recent games. Tevez spent almost all of last season coming of the bench and scored most of his goals in the Carling Cup. Despite this, Tevez has played each game since Maradona took over. Tevez used Maradona as an advisor even before he became the manager, and they are known to be friends. Maradona is an admirer of Tevez’s fight style of play, and he loves the fact that Carlitos came from a similar background and played for Boca. Under a normal manager, Tevez would be dropped, but Diego has made it clear Tevez is very much in his plans.
Kun Aguero, the father of Maradona’s grandchild, will most likely not be dropped while Maradona is boss. Although El Kun has not been at his best for the National Team this past season, I do not think he should be dropped. Playing him with Higuain up top would be scary combination for any team to face. Aguero has certainly struggled playing alongside Tevez, who is very similar in style to him in the fact that they both like the ball played to feet. If Aguero could play off of a more traditional center forward, like he does with Diego Forlan at Atletico, we could see the best of El Kun. It is very hard however to see him reaching his best playing with Tevez and Messi.
Higuain must also be aware that Hernan Crespo’s move to Genoa, where he will be a starter, which could see the former Inter star back in the squad. Hernan has scored 35 goals in 64 games for his country, and his been a reliable scorer in every team he has played for.
Javier Saviola will also be a full time starter again at Benfica. If El Conejo can find some of the form he had during his days at River, he could be a possible call up. It is obvious that there is plenty of competition, but if Pipita put in another 20 goals at Real this season amongst their Galacticos, could Maradona sill leave him out? Surely not, but who knows with Maradona