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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Mauro Icardi's form for Inter deserves Argentina call-up - Mario Kempes

AFP PHOTO / CARLO HERMANNCARLO HERMANN/AFP/Getty Images
Mauro Icardi has scored 15 goals and set up eight in 22 Serie A appearances this season.

Mario Kempes has called for Mauro Icardi to be called into the Argentina national side, and said "what he does [off the pitch] I don't care at all."

Icardi has only represented his country once, with debate about whether his omission is due to having the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala ahead of him or because of his off-field matters.

But Kempes, who won the World Cup with Argentina in 1978, insists Icardi's form for Inter Milan is enough to warrant a call-up.

"I think Icardi deserved to be part of the Argentina national team a long time ago," Kempes told ESPN FC Radio in Argentina. "Higuain is doing very well, but just with Juventus. He's not scoring goals with Argentina. And 'Kun' Aguero, who is not playing very well now, is a similar case.

"There is no more players in that position, because Dybala comes from the second line [behind the strikers]. On the field Icardi always does a good job, what he does off it, I don't care at all. What I do care is what he does for my team on the pitch."

He added: "Even though Inter is not playing well right now, Icardi keeps scoring goals and the team made him captain."

Kempes said reports that Icardi's omission may be partly down to other players not welcoming his inclusion is not a valid reason to ignore him if he is in form.

"I think players of the national team are not entitled to make an opinion about who is making the team and who is not," he said. "At least in my days it was like that. Today they seem to be the ones deciding about the roster."

Argentina are outside the automatic qualification spots for the 2018 World Cup, but Kempes is hopeful they can improve and confirm their participation.

"There is some concern," he said. "But with a lot of games still to play, there is hope. I think the qualification is not easy, not because the other teams are better, but because Argentina is not playing well. There are players on a very low level and that shows in the performance of the team.

"Argentina is a powerhouse in soccer. [Their current predicament] is a shame. Everybody says [Argentine Football Association] is ruined but at the same time all the soccer executives are trying to occupy the main seat there. It is unfortunate."

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