Islas: Armani has to start over Romero

Luis Islas believes that never-been-called-up goalkeeper Franco Armani shouldn’t just go to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, but should start for Argentina ahead of Sergio Romero.

Romero has been a regular in the Albiceleste side for the best part of a decade, winning 92 caps – 36 more than any other Argentinian keeper. The 31-year-old has, however, made zero Premier League appearances for Manchester United this season – and just six over the last three campaigns – due to the presence of David de Gea.

Armani, also 31, rejected the opportunity to pursue an international future with Colombia to fight for a place in Argentina’s Russia 2018 squad. And since joining River Plate in January, he has been in outstanding form, conceding just one goal in his last eight outings.

“I would take him to the World Cup,” Islas, who was a 20-year-old deputy to Nery Pumpido at Mexico 1986 and Argentina’s first-choice goalie at USA 1994, told TyC Sports of Armani. “We’re not talking about an 18-year-old kid.

“This is someone who maintains his form round after round and is playing for an important club like River. If I was the coach I would take him, no doubt about it, but you have to be respectful of the coach, who is Jorge Sampaoli.

“A goalkeeper is far more reliable when he plays [regularly]. It evidently hasn’t hurt ‘Chiquito’ [Romero] much, but I prefer a goalkeeper who plays.

“Given his current form, Armani has to start against Iceland. That said, you would have to give it deep thought because you don’t know how he’d respond to being in goal for the national team.”

Romero, Nahuel Guzman and Willy Caballero were the goalkeepers Sampaoli called up for Argentina’s most recent friendlies against Italy and Spain.

Another former World Cup shot-stopper, Colombian great Rene Higuita, has repeatedly campaigned for Argentina to take Armani – they both starred for Atletico Nacional – to Russia 2018.

After opening up against Iceland in Moscow, Argentina face Croatia in Nizhny and finally Nigeria in St. Petersburg in a wide open Group D.

Annoyed that he was still back-up to Pumpido, Islas quit the national team shortly before Italy 1990. This enabled Sergio Goycochea, who had been Argentina’s third-choice goalkeeper, to capitalise on an injury to Pumpido early in the tournament and go on to make history.

Islas played his final international in a 3-2 defeat to Romania at USA 1994.

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