Argentina eye Reds star

Mascherano named in Batista's initial list

Mascherano: Heading for Beijing

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Argentina's Olympic team boss Sergio Batista has named Javier Mascherano in a list of 53 players from which he will select the 18 who will go to Beijing in August.

In news that could well alarm Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, three players over the age of 23 are allowed in the final squad, but six feature in the list.

Along with Mascherano, Bayern Munich's Martin Demichelis and Juan Roman Riquelme of Boca Juniors are Batista's first choices to help defend the gold medal won in Athens four years ago.

Barcelona's Gabriel Milito, as well as Internazionale pair Esteban Cambiasso and Julio Cruz have also been included in the initial squad.

Damian Leto (Liverpool), Franco Di Santo (Chelsea) and Emiliano Insua, owned by Boca Juniors but on an 18-month loan at Anfield, are also looking to make the cut.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has also been included in Batista's list.