Manchester United starlet Alejandro Garnacho was at the centre of a bizarre debate on Argentinian television this week.
Journalists Ariel Rodríguez, Gringo Cingolani, and Guido Glait were discussing Argentina’s World Cup squad selection on TyC Sports (quotes via La Nacion).
With Paulo Dybala struggling for fitness, Garnacho’s name was floated as a potential replacement for the AS Roma forward.
Rodriguez assured his colleagues that the National Team would feature a “surprise” upon its announcement on Sunday.
“I have no doubts,” he said. “I’m going straight to England, Manchester United. I imagine Garnacho.”
The 18-year-old has been called up to the Lionel Scaloni’s squad previously but has not been capped at senior level.
Glait was dismissive and – at first – he actually gave a decent footballing reason for his stance.
“Please. He has one and a half games in the First Division.”
His argument became more and more obtuse as the debate went on, with Gait criticising the player’s heritage, saying “It’s not nice to have a Spaniard on the squad” as he decried Garnacho’s “lack of Argentinity.”
“He doesn’t speak Spanish, he doesn’t know dulce de leche, he never used a pen, he doesn’t know ‘Caminito’, he doesn’t know July 9, and third, the most important thing: he said his idol is Cristiano Ronaldo.
“How is he going to say that? He didn’t understand anything. He plays Messi in the Argentine national team.”
He later invoked the noble freshwater fish to make his point, saying, “Let’s not make trout because the grandmother’s grandmother is Argentine. We have too many players. And I don’t like the last name.”
While Garnacho’s lack of experience would be a perfectly valid reason to be against his inclusion in Argentina’s 26-man squad, Gait’s main reason to oppose the player was cultural.
“He speaks a language that is not ours, he doesn’t say ‘che’, he doesn’t say ‘chabón’ and he doesn’t eat ‘choripán.’ I want players from Ezpeleta, from Longchamps.”
Cingolani disputed Gait’s point, saying that the nation should “convert” players who come into the squad from a different culture.
“Give me 10 minutes and you are going to say this kid was born in Barracas. I will make him a good barbecue, well prepared with offal.”
Gait was not convinced and still wanted to “remove” Garnacho from the National Team conversation altogether, telling his colleague to “stop joking.”
The Qatar World Cup may be coming too early for Alejandro Garnacho, but it seems as though he may have to work incredibly hard to overcome the prejudices of some in Argentina.