Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has been ruled out of the rest of Argentina's World Cup campaign with a muscle tear, according to reports in Buenos Aires.
The 26-year-old limped off just before half time in his country's final Group F encounter against Nigeria, which they went on to win 3-2 thanks to the subliminal efforts of star man Lionel Messi. However, Alejandro Sabella's joy may well have been short lived following the revelation that Aguero may not partake in Brazil any further.
Despite failing to find the net at this summer's tournament, the Argentine is considered a key component of his nation's attacking options that also include Real Madrid's Angel di Maria and Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain.
"This morning the worst news was confirmed - he has a muscle tear and won't be able to play any more in the cup," Clarin wrote on their website, with more information surrounding the striker's injury set to be revealed late on Thursday.
Having progressed through their group with relative ease - they won all three games to secure top spot - Argentina will face Switzerland in Sao Paulo on July 1 hoping to reach the last eight.
The South America side are considered to be one of the favourites, alongside fierce rivals Brazil, to lift the trophy in the Maracana on July 13. But they will have to do that without one of their star man if the reports in his home country are accurate, intensifying the pressure on Messi to produce the goods for Argentina.
Coach Sabella, though, was relaxed in his post-match press conference yesterday and pointed to Ezequiel Lavezzi as a more than adequate replacement.
The Paris Saint-Germain playmaker earned himself a move to the free-spending French giants after impressing at Italian side Napoli, but despite his blistering form for his domestic clubs over the past three years, Lavezzi has only netted four times for his country in 31 outings.
Manuel Pellegrini, Aguero's manager at City, will be keen for Aguero's injury to be assessed quickly in order to ensure the striker's pre-season is as uninterrupted as possible, with the Citizens beginning the defence of their Premier League crown in just under two months time.
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