• Argentina are in Group C in World Cup
  • Their campaign opener is against Saudi Arabia on Nov. 22
  • Argentina won the Copa America title last year

Lionel Messi-led Argentina have faced a massive setback as in-form forward Paulo Dybala has suffered a freak injury ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Dybala's injury looks "very very bad," according to AS Roma boss Jose Mourinho, who does not expect to see the Argentinian forward play again this year. The 28-year-old striker picked up the injury during Roma's 2-1 win over Lecce in Serie A on Sunday.

"I say bad, but I think very, very bad. I am not a doctor, but in my experience, and speaking to Paulo, it's unlikely we'll see him again this year," Mourinho told DAZN after the game, according to Goal.

After spending seven fine seasons at Juventus, Dybala joined Roma earlier in the summer. He started off the 2022-23 season on a high at his new club, scoring seven goals and assisting two in 11 matches. He was on the goals chart for Roma even in their latest victory.

Dybala sustained a muscular injury while taking a penalty for Roma against Lecce at Stadio Olimpico. Though he scored to make it 2-1 for Roma, he was soon forced off the field. The South American player looked emotional on the bench with an ice pack strapped to his thigh. While Dybala has struggled with injuries in recent times, the timing of his latest injury is not good as the World Cup is now just six weeks away.

The former Juventus star, who was a regular member of the Argentina national team until 2019, lost his position in the next two years and as a result, he was not even a part of the side that won the Copa America last year. However, he was included in the squad that beat Italy 3-0 in the one-off CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions game at Wembley. His presence on the field was for just a minute but that was good enough for him to put his name on the goal sheet.

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala said he has tested positive for coronavirus but was 'perfectly fine'
Paulo Dybala moved from Juventus to AS Roma in the 2022 summer AFP / Isabella BONOTTO

Dybala, who has scored three goals and six assists in 34 appearances for the Argentina national team, now faces an uneasy wait to determine the severity of his injury and has to race against the time to be fit for the World Cup.

The mega event is scheduled to begin on Nov. 20 in Qatar. Argentina are due to begin their campaign on Nov. 22 against Saudi Arabia. The Albicelestes are in Group C, along with Poland, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni is expected to name his squad later this month.