World Cup: Atlanta United's Thiago Almada joins Argentina as injury replacement

World Cup- Argentina

It's not how he'd planned it, but Thiago Almada is going to the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina after all.

Atlanta United's playmaker was called in as one of two emergency replacements by head coach Luis Scaloni after Nicolás González (Fiorentina) and Joaquín Correa (Inter Milan) both went down with injuries just days before the Albiceleste's Group C debut against Saudi Arabia on Nov. 22.

Atletico Madrid winger Ángel Correa was the other last-second addition to a loaded squad that's led by the likes of Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Angel Di Maria (Juventus) and Julián Álvarez (Manchester City).

Almada, who joined Atlanta this year from Vélez Sarsfield for a reported MLS-record transfer fee of $16 million, just recently broke into Argentina's senior team while posting 6g/12a in his debut season with the Five Stripes.

The 21-year-old midfielder earned his first cap in a 3-0 international friendly win over Honduras in September, getting praise from Messi himself after putting in a lively 36 minutes at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Although he failed to make Scaloni's final 26-man roster for the World Cup, Almada remained an alternate in case the unexpected happened. With the injury bug biting the two-time champions, he's now Qatar-bound.

After opening Group C action against Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Almada will then face Mexico (Nov. 26) and Poland (Nov. 30).