Mario Kempes has called for the Inter Milan player Mauro Icardi to be given a place in the Argentina national side.

Icardi has played for Argentina just once and there is a debate over whether his omission is due to players such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala being picked ahead of him or because of his off-field behaviour.

However, Kempes, who won the World Cup with Argentina in 1978, said that Icardi’s form for Inter Milan is enough to earn him a place.

“I think Icardi deserved to be part of the Argentina national team a long time ago,” Kempes told ESPN FC Radio in Argentina. “Higuain is doing very well, but just with Juventus. He’s not scoring goals with Argentina. And ‘Kun’ Aguero, who is not playing very well now, is a similar case.”

He went on to say that Icardi always does a good job on the pitch and that he doesn’t “care at all” what he does off it, “What I do care is what he does for my team on the pitch.” He added, “Even though Inter is not playing well right now, Icardi keeps scoring goals and the team made him captain.”

In regards to reports that Icardi may have been left out of the team due to other players not welcoming his inclusion Kempes said that it isn’t a valid reason to ignore an in form player.

At present Argentina is outside of the automatic qualification for the 2018 World Cup but Kempes is hopeful that they will improve and guarantee their participation. He said that Argentina is a “powerhouse” of football and that the current predicament is a shame. He said that the team isn’t playing well at the moment but that there are still a number of games to play and improve in.