Uncapped Independiente goalkeeper Oscar Ustari has beaten River Plate’s German Lux to the third goalkeeping berth in Argentina’s World Cup squad but the omission of Internazionale defender Javier Zanetti and Bayern Munich midfielder Martin Demichelis is the biggest talking point.
Argentina coach Jose Nestor Pekerman admitted he had anguished over making his final cuts.
On the goalkeeping decision, he said: “We always said that there were four keepers in our mind. We called up the three who are in the right form to play in a World Cup.”
Ustari did make the bench for a 1-1 friendly draw with Mexico in Los Angeles last year but has never made the starting XI.
Rodrigo Palacio, a 24-year-old forward for Boca Juniors, is rewarded for his excellent season as well as starting goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri who also plays for the Buenos Aires giants.
Julio Cruz, with 17 goals for Inter in Serie A this season, also makes the trip and will provide an alternative to Hernan Crespo as a big target man.
Pekerman said: “Palacio’s characteristics are similar to the other forwards - even though he has not played too much for us I think he can bring a lot to the team.
The coach said: “In all this period in charge of the national team, I’ve tried to encourage competition between players to motivate everybody to be in the World Cup. There were a lot of players who had a chance of being included.
“We must be all now support this team who make me feel confident ahead of the competition.”
Only Juan Pablo Sorin, Roberto Ayala, Crespo and Pablo Aimar survive from the 2002 squad when Marcelo Bielsa’s side was disappointingly eliminated at the group stage.
Argentina, who will face the Ivory Coast, Serbia and Montenegro and Holland in Group C, are scheduled to play one warm-up friendly on May 30 against Angola in Salerno, Italy.
Demichelis and Zanetti had earlier informed the media that Pekerman had contacted them to let them know they would not be going to Germany.
Zanetti told Radio La Plata: “Nobody told me what I did wrong to not be in the World Cup squad. I’m calm because I think I did my best to be on the list and I’ve been always available for the national team when they needed me.
“We’ll never know if I’ve been excluded because of football reasons or not.”
Argentina squad for World Cup: Roberto Abbondanzieri (Boca Juniors), Leonardo Franco (Atletico Madrid), Oscar Ustari (Independiente); Fabricio Coloccini (Deportivo La Coruna), Leandro Cufre (Roma), Roberto Ayala (Valencia), Nicolas Burdisso (Internazionale), Gabriel Milito (Real Zaragoza), Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United), Juan Pablo Sorin (Villarreal); Juan Roman Riquelme (Villarreal), Luis Gonzalez (Porto), Javier Mascherano (Corinthians), Esteban Cambiasso (Internazionale), Maximiliano Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Pablo Aimar (Valencia), Lionel Scaloni (West Ham United); Hernan Crespo (Chelsea), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Carlos Tevez (Corinthians), Rodrigo Palacio (Boca Juniors), Javier Saviola (Sevilla), Julio Cruz (Internazionale)