Gianluigi Buffon has denied that Daniele De Rossi's exclusion from the Roma starting XI on Sunday has caused a rift in the national team.
The Azzurri travel to Armenia on Friday for their third World Cup qualifier, and the Juventus goalkeeper has quashed rumours that the Giallorossi midfielder's rejection at the weekend has resulted in an uneasy tension in camp.
“The atmosphere is normal,” he told a Press conference today. “There is nothing complicated about it – it just so happened that on Sunday, the Coach decided to not play Daniele.
“You do not know the real reasons. But regardless, his value and contribution to our team go way above any problems he has [at Roma].
“We have him, we are all close and we are happy he is in our squad. Players bring their club worries to the national team all the time – that is commonplace. But the national team is immune from all this negativity.”
The 34-year-old shot-stopper also commented on Cesare Prandelli's ideas for Italy ahead of the 2014 World Cup, as well as remarking on Mario Balotelli, and Antonio Cassano being left out of the squad.
“We are trying to carry out a project with fresh faces,” he said. “Young players who are being given a chance on the biggest of stages.
“Hopefully these players will grow quickly on a technical level, because Brazil 2014 is not so far away.
“We all know Mario's value. We expect him to produce the quality he is capable of on the field, and help us win games. He has that ability.
“The exclusion of Cassano? I am not surprised. These are the choices the Coach has to make. I do not think, however, that the Coach has closed the door in his face.”
The former Parma man also spoke about the pride he feels representing the national side, and Juventus' prospects of retaining the Scudetto.
“You cannot say that the national team is a nuisance. It should always be a source of pride at any time of the season to play for your country.
“Juve are continuing the journey we started 18 months ago. The management has strengthened the side, and it is fair to say that we will challenge for the title until May.
“Napoli have a great Coach and are playing a type of football that means they are remaining at a competitive level. The fact that they are not playing in the Champions League will help them, I think.
“Lazio, also, are doing great things. They have a smart Coach who is in step with the times. Inter have also rejuvenated their team and are on the right track. They could be up there come the end of the season.”
Buffon concluded by praising Roma boss Zdenek Zeman, who has come under pressure for his side's inconsistent start to the season.
“He has proven to be a consistent Coach. He has his own ideas of how his team's should play, and has done extraordinary things with the sides he has been in charge of. There are always risks, and sometimes it doesn’t work. But other times, he exceeds all expectations.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition - £10,000 to be won!