Cristian Ansaldi is the big surprise in Jorge Sampaoli’s 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. “I chose him because he’s a full-back who can play on either flank,” said the Argentina coach in reference to the 31-year-old defender, who has spent ten seasons in Europe, five of them in Russia. The only previous occasion on which Sampaoli called on Ansaldi’s services was for the November 2017 friendlies, when he chose to leave him on the bench.
Since winning his first senior cap under Diego Maradona in 2009, the defender - affectionately nicknamed Colo - has made just four more appearances for La Albiceleste, scoring one goal. A solid defender who knows when to get forward and can strike the ball with either foot, Ansaldi can also play in the centre of defence.