Stefano Pioli has laughed off suggestions that he is considering dropping Marco Di Vaio from the Bologna first team.
Di Vaio, who has been Bologna’s top scorer in each of his past three seasons with the club, has come under pressure in recent days for an 18-game run that has seen him score just one goal - a penalty against Atalanta.
Suggestions were made that Pioli was considering a change of formation and that Di Vaio would lose his place in the starting line-up as a consequence. However, the Coach took time after Wednesday’s Coppa Italia win over Crotone to deny this.
“Talk of benching Marco is 'bar talk' and I cannot get behind it. If there was a role to play similar to [Jose] Altafini then I would consider it, but there is not and stuff like this has never crossed my mind.
“Di Vaio is a player with optimal athletic fitness and with a scoring average which has always been impressive - if he has just two balls [during a game] he’d score with them both.”
The Altafini role Pioli refers to is in relation to the former Milan, Napoli and Juventus’ player’s goal-scoring record in Italy which was partly renowned for his ability to come off the bench to score goals.
It took until 2006 for anyone to match his record of six goals scored coming off the bench in a single Serie A season, when Alessandro Del Piero achieved the same number.