Batista names squad for Nigeria, Poland friendlies
A squad of 22 players mostly aged under 25 and based in Europe will represent Argentina for friendlies against Nigeria on June 1 and Poland four days later.
Manchester City fullback Pablo Zabaleta, fresh from winning the FA Cup in England, plus Nicolas Otamendi and Fernando Belluschi, both members of FC Porto's Europa League-winning squad, were named on the list by coach Sergio Batista on Wednesday.
The squad gives opportunities to Argentina's fringe players and leaves out established stars such as Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano.
All of the players were based in Europe except for Independiente goalkeeper Adrian Gabbarini and midfielder Mario Bolatti, who played for Internacional in Brazil.
Perhaps the most unusual selection was Valencia midfielder Alberto Costa, who has never played in Argentina and began his career in a non-professional league on the island of Guadaloupe.
''On the island I played at amateur level, but I dreamt of reaching the top and wearing the national team colors,'' said Costa, who also holds French citizenship.
The games are in Abuja, Nigeria then Warsaw, Poland.
Argentina was preparing for the Copa America which it hosts in July.
Goalkeepers: Oscar Ustari (Getafe), Adrian Gabbarini (Independiente)
Defenders: Federico Fazio (Seville), Mateo Mussacchio (Villarreal), Ezequiel Garay (Real Madrid), Nicolas Otamendi (Porto), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Marcos Angeleri (Sunderland), Alejandro Cabral (Legia Warsaw), Emiliano Insua (Galatasaray).
Midfielders: Nicolas Bertolo (Zaragoza), Alberto Costa (Valencia), Pablo Piatti (Almeria), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica), Fernando Belluschi (FC Porto), Franco Jara (Benfica), Mauro Formica (Blackburn), Mario Bolatti (Internacional).
Forwards: Diego Perotti (Seville), Marco Ruben (Villarreal), Mauro Boselli (Genoa), Jonathan Cristaldo (Metalist).