Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi has reportedly already been told he will not play for Argentina at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as he is not part of Lionel Messi's "clan."
Icardi has enjoyed a superb season for Inter, but he was not called up for the recent international friendlies against Spain and Italy and will also not be included in the World Cup squad, per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Calciomercato.com).
The 25-year-old has 24 goals in 26 Serie A appearances for Inter this season but was left out of the latest Argentina squad by manager Jorge Sampaoli. Icardi said he had spoken to Sampaoli and understood why he had been omitted, per Sky Sport Italia (h/t Goal's Ryan Benson).
Sampaoli said the striker remains important for the national team and no final decisions have been made yet, per FourFourTwo. He said: "Icardi and Dybala are both important players and everything is undecided for the World Cup squad going to Russia."
Argentina football writer Roy Nemer does not expect Icardi to make the squad:
Sampaoli has a wealth of attacking options in established stars such as Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Correa, while youngster Lautaro Martinez is also being tipped to get a call-up.
Journalist Dan Edwards explained Sampaoli's selection dilemmas:
Daniel Edwards @DanEdwardsGoal
A growing, yet welcome dilemma for Argentina and Sampaoli. Lautaro Martínez and Cristian Pavón playing themselves into the World Cup instead of Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala. Would be a huge risk with the two local players, but each offers something the Italy-based guys don't.
Despite having a star-studded attack, Argentina found qualification tough. They only secured an automatic spot in their final qualifier, thanks to a Messi hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Ecuador.
Argentina also struggled without their talisman in their recent friendlies. Although they beat Italy, they were hammered 6-1 by Spain. Guillem Balague summed up how vital Messi is to Argentina's hopes of glory:
Sampaoli has also acknowledged Messi's importance to his team, per The Independent. He said: "This is going to be his team, He is the best of all and is in a stage of maturity that can he can carry the team on his shoulders. This is going to be his team."
There's no doubting Icardi's quality, but Argentina simply have so much attacking talent, they can afford to leave him out. It's difficult to say if Messi has any influence on Sampaoli's selection, but what is not in doubt is that their only chance of success this summer is with the Barcelona maestro in the team.