Argies at Corinthians
RIO DE JANEIRO: The problems at Brazilian champions Corinthians deepened on Tuesday after Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano followed the example of compatriot Carlos Tevez and skipped training.
Tevez returned to Buenos Aires last week without permission and has not been seen at the club since playing in the 1-0 win over Botafogo on Aug 22.
Mascherano was sent off in Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat by Gremio but was still expected to turn up for Tuesday morning’s practice.
“I began the practice at 8.30am and there was no sign of Mascherano,” coach Emerson Leao said. “I haven’t received any official message from him and the case has been passed to the directors.”
Both Tevez and Mascherano have been picked for Argentina’s friendly against Brazil in London on Sept 3.
But relegation-threatened Corinthians, who play Ponte Preta on the same day in the Brazilian championship, have refused to release them.
The Argentine pair, who cost US$33mil between them, were signed under the controversial partnership between Corinthians and London-based Media Sports Investments. Both have been the subject of speculation over moves to Europe since the World Cup.
This increased after Leao, who has a long and well-documented rivalry with Argentine players, took over earlier this month to become the club’s fourth coach of the year.
Two weeks ago, Leao stripped Tevez of the captaincy, complaining that nobody could understand what he was saying.
Brazilian media have speculated that Mascherano deliberately got himself sent off against Gremio so that he would miss the Ponte Preta match through suspension and could play for Argentina.
Leao would not directly comment on the suggestion but said: “The sending-off was extremely unpleasant.” – ReutersAnd from the Irish Examiner today: "Former Boca Juniors sensation Tevez has been linked with a number of clubs but Arsenal are now leading the chase for the powerful forward. Defensive midfielder Mascherano appears to be the subject of a tussle between Manchester United and Chelsea, with Alex Ferguson turning his attention to new targets after seemingly missing out on Owen Hargreaves."