Pastore's Argentina hopes hit
Javier Pastore's absence from the Argentina national side is set to continue with coach Alejandro Sabella suggesting the Paris Saint-Germain star's style of play does not suit the Albiceleste.
After taking the reins of the national side in August 2011, Sabella has not called on Pastore since a 1-1 draw with Bolivia in November of the same year. Despite the former Palermo midfielder now beginning to show the sort of form which persuaded PSG to pay €42 million for him, Pastore, 23, remains a luxurious talent Sabella feels he can ill afford as he bids to guide the team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"Javier is a playmaker who has enormous talent. We continue to follow his progress with PSG," Sabella, 58, told L'Equipe. "But in a certain way, we play with a different system, and Javier has a very different profile to the players we have at our disposal."
Sabella's flying start to his reign makes a return for Pastore all the less likely. Six victories and a sole defeat have come from the team's first nine 2014 World Cup qualifiers, leaving them atop the South American section. However, while Pastore will have to watch his country's successes from afar, PSG team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzi can expect to be much closer to the action.
"He too has special characteristics. He's able to play on the flank, while [Sergio] Aguero and [Gonzalo] Higuain play through the middle. He gives us different options, because he likes to play diagonally, either cutting inside or going outside to cross, even if we don't cross all that much as we don't have a No.9 who scores a lot with his head," Sabella explained, before adding that it was not only the ex-Napoli star's attacking qualities which make him useful.
"He tracks back well, something we work particularly hard on. Our system means that we're sometimes vulnerable when the opposition full-backs come forward."