Why Fabricio Coloccini's Newcastle Struggles Are a Worry for Argentina

Daniel Edwards@@DanEdwardsGoalFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21:  Moussa Sissoko of Newcastle United and team mate Fabrizio Coloccini react during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton at the Boleyn Ground on September 21, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

While Fabricio Coloccini is not an indispensable member of the Argentina national team, his talents are useful for a side not exactly blessed with numerous defenders.

That is why his slump in form is being watched with concern on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The frizzy-haired centre-back, now 31, is somewhat of a paradox for the Seleccion.

His best Premier League years coincided with a spell in which he was frozen out of international duty. Even in 2011-12, where he was named Newcastle captain and voted into the PFA team of the year (BBC Sport), he failed to make a single appearance for Alejandro Sabella's team.

The coach has made amends for his oversight. Coloccini is now well-established as the first replacement for starting pair Ezequiel Garay and Federico Fernandez, and looks likely to feature in Argentina's plans for the World Cup in 2014.

But with alternatives scarce, his recent drop could become a major concern. 

In 11th place in the Premier League, Newcastle are hardly in crisis. But a closer look at the statistics tells a different story: 12 goals have been conceded in just seven games, a figure only surpassed by basement clubs Crystal Palace and Sunderland

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has not convinced at all alongside the Argentine, while in the match against Everton— just to give one example—Coloccini's floundering against Romelu Lukaku was deeply troubling.

Coloccini endured a torrid 90 minutes against Everton
Coloccini endured a torrid 90 minutes against EvertonStu Forster/Getty Images

One wonders if the strife of last January is catching up with the defender. During that transfer window, Coloccini made it clear that he wanted to leave the north-east and return to South America, a request turned down by his employers, despite strong interest from boyhood club San Lorenzo (BBC Sport).

The player stayed put, and the summer came and went without that same transfer speculation resuming. 

But having made it clear that he wanted to be closer to his family back in Argentina, could it be that his head is not in the right place to steer a calamitous Newcastle back line? 

Coloccini has been defiant when asked about his club's current troubles in keeping out goals. Speaking to the Newcastle Chronicle, the team captain urged his team-mates to buck up their ideas and avoid a repeat of last year's nightmare campaign:

If we want to be serious about being in the top 10 or look to bigger things or be a big team in the Premier League we have to start to take the chances we have.

If not we are going to have problems. We do not want to be like we were last season.

We ended the season fighting against relegation, we can’t have that again.

Not just for the Magpies but for Coloccini himself. He knows that if his form does not improve, he stands a real chance of once more falling out of favour with the Argentina selectors.

If that happens now, then he can kiss goodbye to the chance of playing in what will almost certainly be his last World Cup. 

It would be Argentina's loss as well. A fit, in-form Coloccini is a great asset to their squad, one which the team rich in attack would have to search and struggle in order to replace.