Thursday 08 Mar
Updated Thursday 08 Mar 11:10
Interviews

Zabaleta: Manu's Argentina recall can only be good for West Ham United

Pablo Zabaleta and Manuel Lanzini at Rush Green

 

Manuel Lanzini’s inclusion in the Argentina squad can only be a good thing for West Ham United, according to his teammate and fellow countryman Pablo Zabaleta.

The No10 has been recalled by La Celeste manager Jorge Sampaoli for friendly internationals with Italy and Spain at the end of March after missing his country’s last six matches through injury.

And with just three months to go until Argentina kick-off their 2018 FIFA World Cup finals challenge against Iceland, Zabaleta believes his talented compatriot has an opportunity to cement his place on the plane to Russia if he impresses for both Club and country.

Manu needs a very good run of games between now and the end of the season, which will hopefully help West Ham play well

Pablo Zabaleta

“It’s great news for Manu to be back in the squad, especially as we are not far from the World Cup,” said Zabaleta, who has himself been capped 58 times and started Argentina’s 1-0 defeat by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil.

“This at least means that the manager is looking at him, so I’m very happy for that, but he also needs a very good run of games between now and the end of the season, which will hopefully help West Ham play well and Manu to make the final list for the World Cup.”

 

Pablo Zabaleta and Manuel Lanzini chat during a training session at London Stadium
Pablo Zabaleta and Manuel Lanzini chat during a training session at London Stadium

 

Lanzini, who made his debut against Brazil last June and has two senior caps, is one of a host of supremely talented attacking midfielders and forwards available to Sampaoli.

Barcelona legend Lionel Messi, Juventus centre forward Gonzalo Higuain, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, Paris Saint-Germain pair Angel Di Maria and Giovani Lo Celso, Benfica winger Eduardo Salvio, Roma playmaker Diego Perotti and Sporting Lisbon wideman Marcos Acuna have all been named alongside the Hammers favourite for the upcoming friendly matches.

But with the likes of Juventus’ Paulo Dybala, Internazionale’s Mauro Icardi, Paris Saint-Germain’s Javier Pastore, Atletico Madrid’s Joaquin Correa and a host of promising youngsters also eager to be involved, Lanzini will need to maintain his form if he wants to be in Sampaoli's final 23.

“Argentina have so many options in the middle of the park and up front, so to be on the list means you are doing a great job for your Club, and Manu is one of our key players at West Ham.

“He was very unlucky when he got his last injury because he was in very good form and that injury put him out of the line-up for a few weeks. He’s been back in the team for two games and now I wish he can return to that same level, get some game-time for Argentina and he can be in the final squad.

“We have two big games against Italy and Spain and they will give him a great chance to show he should be on the list for the World Cup and, as a teammate of his, I will be very happy and proud to see Manu play for Argentina in Russia.”