After firing Juventus to their sixth straight Serie A title in his first season following a €90m move from rivals Napoli, many would count Gonzalo Higuain as a shoo-in for the Argentina national team despite competition from the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.
However, head coach Jorge Sampaoli hasn't seen it that way and left the former Real Madrid forward out of his squad for friendlies against Russia and Nigeria in preparation for next summer's World Cup, instead opting for Inter's Mauro Icardi and Boca Juniors duo Cristian Pavon and Dario Benedetto.
Higuain's Juventus teammate and fellow Argentine Paulo Dybala has backed his strike partner and claims he doesn't need to prove anything following his exclusion from La Albiceleste.
“The fans want him, he’s a great player,” said Dybala when speaking to TyC Sports (via Football Italia).
“Gonzalo strives and always gives his best. He dreams of being here. He doesn’t need to prove anything."
Despite scraping through to reach the 2018 World Cup finals by the skin of their teeth under the direction of Sampaoli, it's hard to believe a team featuring the attacking talent of Messi, Higuain, Aguero, Dybala and Icardi will not be a force to be reckoned with in Russia.
For Dybala, after watching the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with his former Palermo teammates, the silky forward hopes to go one better and play a major part in their potential success in a talented squad full of attacking stars.
“I dreamed of playing in it. Now I want to share this experience with my teammates. I must work hard and do my utmost to help Messi and the rest of the team.”