Maradona tells striker Crespo to leave Inter
Argentina boss Diego Maradona has named Hernan Crespo in his provisional squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, but told the striker he should leave Inter Milan if he wants to stay a part of his plans.
Crespo has been a peripheral figure at the San Siro since the arrival of boss Jose Mourinho in the summer and Maradona revealed he has advised the 33-year-old to quit Inter in the summer or risk losing his place in the national team.
"Crespo does not play in Inter and I have told him to leave the club in June," Maradona revealed. "I told him: 'Get out of there and play, Hernan. Put me in an awkward position.'"
Maradona named two new names in his 26-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Bolivia at the end of the month, with defender Juan Forlin and goalkeeper Federico Vilar called up.
Forlin, 20, had been named in a domestic-based training squad in December, but will join the national team for the first time ahead of Venezuela's visit to Buenos Aires on March 28.
"When I was told that I had a chance to join the national squad I was very proud," Forlin told TyC sports television network.
"I want to work closely with the boss and I will play wherever he needs me to."
Following Juan Roman Riquelme's decision to quit the national team earlier this week, Maradona admitted he has endured arguably the toughest week of his time in charge of the national team.
Riquelme revealed on Tuesday that he would not play for Argentina again while Maradona was in charge, claiming his decision had been prompted by a "difference in principals" with his national team boss.
The Boca Juniors playmaker also said he had been disappointed Maradona had not contacted him last month when he was left out of the squad that played France in a friendly.
"I do not regret anything at all. I sleep great," Maradona told Clarin newspaper.
"I know I did things correctly, but it makes me sad that I will not be able to count on Riquelme.
"Everything is so weird. I do not know what he was told. I called him five times, I phoned him from my home. I left him several messages and he never answered."
Maradona has since admitted it is a blow to lose Riqueleme's influential talents in midfield, but has put his confidence in Independiente's Daniel Montenegro to fill his shoes.
He added: "I like having a playmaker and Riquelme fitted that role perfectly, but we have Montenegro. He will wear the number 10 shirt."
Maradona denied he thought of leaving his post during this week's controversy, saying the talent of his squad ensured he would remain.
"It is very hard to be the national squad boss, but I never though of resigning," he said.
"Why not? Because of (Javier) Mascherano, (Martin) Demichelis, (Sergio Aguero) Kun, Leo (Messi), (Juan) Carrizo, (Javier) Zanetti and (Emiliano) Papa.
"Nobody will force me to leave because I have my players. It took me so long to get this job and I enjoy it because I know that I have a team of men.
"The fact that one soldier has fallen does not mean the whole team does not still stand strong."
Argentina currently sit third in the South American World Cup qualification table, seven points behind leaders Paraguay.
They host Venezuela in Buenos Aires on March 28 before travelling to La Paz to play Bolivia three days later.
Argentina squad: Juan Carrizo (Lazio), Mariano Andujar (Estudiantes La Plata), Federico Vilar (Atlante); Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan), Emiliano Papa (Velez Sarsfield), Gabriel Heinze (Real Madrid), Daniel Diaz (Getafe), Walter Samuel (Inter Milan), Juan Forlin (Boca Juniors), Marcos Angeleri (Estudiantes La Plata), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich); Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Maximiliano Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle United), Sebastian Battaglia (Boca Juniors), Luis Gonzalez (Porto), Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes La Plata), Angel Di Maria (Benfica), Daniel Montenegro (Independiente); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Carlos Tevez (Manchester United), Lisandro Lopez (Porto), Diego Milito (Genoa), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli).