All hail Argentina and why Mourinho should zip the lip

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Italian football has always had a strong relationship with Argentines.

Some have delighted, some disappointed and then, of course, there was Diego Maradona. But most have got on with their jobs in a professional manner give or take the odd dodgy passport.

This weekend should see Lazio maintain top spot in the league, with three citizens from that fine South American country playing their part.

In fact, of the current top 10 in the table, only AC Milan, AS Roma and Palermo do not have an Argentine in their first-team squad.

So let’s name the best doing their nation proud, starting from the top:

Mauro Zarate
Totally unknown to the Italian public when he arrived from Birmingham City in the summer via Al Sadd in Qatar, but now after six goals in the first five games, the Lazio striker leads the goalscoring charts to become the star of the early part of the season.

Birmingham to Lazio: Zarate fires Romans to Serie A summit 

Diego Milito
“The Prince” returned to Genoa from a spell in Spain and has continued where he left off two seasons ago, finding the net on four occasions and looking the most complete target-man in the league so far.

Javier Zanetti
With his coach Jose Mourinho hogging the headlines, the Inter captain recently surpassed the 600-appearance mark for the club and is still the champions’ real boss.

Mauro Camoranesi
Okay, he decided to become an Italian ages ago but he’s never lost that never-say-die-attitude and dazzling foot-work akin to the best of his countrymen. His defending in Minsk in midweek saved Juventus from a first-half drubbing.

Ezequiel Lavezzi
The little man is recovering from injury but the first weeks of the season saw the nippy frontman run defences ragged. Thankfully, no longer dubbed with the “New Maradona” tag and the better for it.

German Denis
Back in Serie A again and a player honed on a diet of prime Argentine beef. Denis the menace has been softening defenders up for fun, enabling Napoli team-mates such as Marek Hamsik to sneak up from midfield and nab the goals.

Cristian Ledesma

Much maligned last season for lacking heart, the Lazio playmaker has stared down his accusers and grabbed the midfield by the scruff of the neck. Juventus are reportedly ready to make a January move for the 26-year-old. They could do with him.

Ledesma fends off Totti in the Rome derby

Juan Pablo Carrizo
Was meant to have been between the sticks for Lazio last season until he got tangled up in some red-tape concerning a European passport. With that out of the way, finally Delio Rossi has found a replacement for Angelo Peruzzi.

Pablo Ledesma
Another Ledesma but this time driving the Catania midfield to an unlikely top-three position. The former Boca Juniors man combines not only slick passing but plenty of lung-power.

All hail the Republic of Argentina then, and of course an honourable mention has to go Esteban Cambiasso – a little below his best at the moment, but that’s because he has to make up for Inter playing with 10 men whenever Ricardo Quaresma is in the side.

Talking of Inter – and it’s hard not to - Mourinho may have learnt Italian in double-quick time but he still has a lot to learn about the Italian character.

They don’t like someone taking the “Michele” out of them about how much they earn, especially when the country is once again staring into the economic abyss.

Time for the Portuguese to zip the lip and earn his keep: a derby defeat and 1-1 draw at home to Werder Bremen should serve as a warning sign that he could also be set for an almighty crash.

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