Lionel Messi has scored 67 goals in 131 games for Argentine but it looks like he is destined to end his international career without a trophy.
Aged 31, it is time for the Albiceleste to think beyond Messi and so, here are five players who could take his place in the national team in the near future.
#5. Cristian Pavón
Cristian Pavon is not a goalscoring forward like Lionel Messi but he can create goalscoring opportunities for Argentina’s long list of prolific strikers.
Pavon has represented the national team in eleven games with little success but if he’s given a bigger role and more responsibility, then he could easily cement his place on either wing for a few good years.
The 23-year-old currently plays for Boca Juniors and he has 28 goals and 32 assists for them in only 108 games. He has been linked with a move to Europe with Arsenal and Barcelona among the rumoured destinations.
#4. Lautaro Martínez
Argentina have a history of prolific strikers and they are often spoilt for choices. The next superstar striker from the country could be Lautaro Martínez who already has four goals in only seven games for the national team.
Martinez is only 21-years-old and he is already causing furore with his performance for both club and country. He started his career with Racing Club in Argentina and he scored 26 goals for them in only 58 games before moving to Inter Milan last summer.
At Inter, Martinez started out as a backup to Mauro Icardi but after Icardi was frozen out of the squad, Martinez got more playing time and he ended the season with nine goals and two assists in only 1,761 minutes.
#3. Giovani Lo Celso
Tottenham Hotspur are targetting Giovani Lo Celso as a potential replacement for Christian Eriksen and if Lo Celso can replace Eriksen at club level, then there is no reason why he can’t be as influential as Eriksen is for the Denmark national team.
Argentina have lacked a creative midfield influence in recent years and are often too reliant on Lionel Messi to create chances. Once Messi retires, then they’ll need a midfielder who can score goals and create chances and Lo Celso fits the bill perfectly.
The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at Real Betis and in 45 games, he scored 16 goals and provided six assists for a Betis side that finished tenth in the La Liga.
#2. Mauro Icardi
With 124 goals in 219 games for Inter Milan since the start of the 2013/14 season, Mauro Icardi has been one of the best strikers in the world but since making his international debut for Argentina in 2013, Icardi had to wait till 2017 to wear the national colours once again.
The Inter Milan striker has been kept out of the national team by the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez and even Rodrigo Palacios in recent years but now, three of those strikers have retired from international duty and Aguero is 31-years-old. Icardi who is still only 26-years-old should finally get his chance to lead the line for his country.
Icardi has only played eight times for Argentina so far and he has one goal for them which came against Mexico in 2018. Once Leo Messi’s time is over, Argentina will have to find a player who can at least compensate for the goals scored by him and Icardi has the ability to do so.
#1. Paulo Dybala
There aren’t many players in the world that resemble Lionel Messi in their playing style but Paulo Dybala is often talked about as Messi’s replacement for both club and country.
Dybala has evolved as a player at Juventus and in 182 games for the club, he has 78 goals and 31 assists. However, for Argentina, he has one goal in only 20 appearances and there is a reason why he hasn’t hit the same heights for the national team yet.
Argentina’s managers have struggled to find a system where they can accommodate both Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala without having to compromise the team’s balance. Hence, Dybala is often played out of position, played off the bench or he’s not even used.
Once Messi retires, Dybala will most likely be the fulcrum of the Argentina team and once that happens, his numbers for the national team will improve massively.