© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Forward Ezequiel Lavezzi, a brand-new figure in Chinese Super League (CSL), has became the first Argentine to be called up for national duty while playing in the Asian country. The 30-year-old is one of the 29 players called up by coach Gerardo Martino on Tuesday to participate in the upcoming South American qualifiers for World Cup 2018 where Argentina will visit Chile and host Bolivia on March 24 and 29, respectively, reports Xinhua. Lavezzi signed with Chinese side Hebei China Fortune on February 17. The Argentine played 161 matches and scored 35 goals between 2012 and 2016 for French club Paris Saint Germain (PSG). During this time, the French side won nine titles.

Even though it had been speculated that Lavezzi’s move to China’s Super League would cost him his place in the national team, Martino decided to respect the forward’s track record. Lavezzi was first asked to represent his country in 2007 and 2008, and he was part of the gold medal winning team at the Beijing Olympics. Lavezzi started his youth career with Rosario Central (1995-2003) and then after being rejected by Boca Juniors he began his career with third division Estudiantes in the 2003-2004 season.

His consistent performance got him noticed by Italy’s Genoa and the team signed him at the age of 19 in 2004, only to loan him to Argentine side San Lorenzo where he played 97 matches and scored 26 goals between 2004 and 2007. Without even playing a match for Genoa, Lavezzi made his European football debut with Italian side Napoli in 2007 and he quickly became an idol.

After scoring 48 goals in 118 matches and winning the Copa Italia in 2012, Lavezzi was transferred to French club Paris Sain Germain, where he became part of a historic team, where he won almost every tournament played in France, including three consecutive league titles. With Argentina’s national team, Lavezzi competed in the 2011 and 2015 Copa Americas and Brazil’s World Cup in 2014, where he played six matches, including the final where Argentina lost 0-1 to Germany in extra time.

In total, the striker has donned the national shirt 48 times, scoring seven goals and assisting 11 times. Lavezzi played his first match in Chinese league on Friday when he came onto the pitch in the 65th minute. His team won 2-1 away to Guangzhou R&F. Apart from Lavezzi, there are another three Argentines playing in China currently including midfielders Dario Conca (Shanghai SIPG) and Walter Montillo (Shandong Luneng) and former Boca Juniors forward Emmanuel Gigliotti (Chonqing Lifan).