Sunday March 26 2017
Di Biagio: 'U21 font of Italy talent'

Gigi Di Biagio prepares Italy Under-21s for tomorrow’s friendly with Spain and celebrates their status as “a font of talent for the senior squad.”

The Azzurrini have already qualified for the European Championships in June and continue the warm-up on Monday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

“We were already a strong squad two years ago and it was an unlucky tournament for us,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“Just getting into the Euros is not something to be taken for granted, but we must always aim for the top. Qualifying is a start, but if we think that we’re the best and have to win, then we’ll run into some nasty surprises.

“We wanted a tough friendly and Spain are as tough as you can get, but we’ve got to play our game, attack and score goals. We will play without fear.

“The fact we’ve got 10 players eligible for the Under-21s currently playing for the senior Italy squad shows we have become a font of talent.

“Giampiero Ventura has brought a lot of our lads into the senior squad and we are very happy to see that, as it proves we’ve done good work.

“Winning the European Championships would be fantastic, but we must never forget the real objective of the Under-21 side is to prepare players for the step up to the Nazionale.”

Some of those players, such as Lazio-owned Danilo Cataldi, impress on international duty, but struggle to get regular playing time at club level.

“Every time Danilo plays for us, he is one of the best performers on the pitch. That is not new. The strange thing is that he doesn’t manage to prove his worth in Serie A, because he really has a lot to give.

“I don’t see him every day in training, so I can’t know what happened at Lazio and then Genoa.”

Federico Chiesa has become a regular at Fiorentina and received his Under-21 debut in Thursday’s 2-1 friendly victory in Poland.

“I’ve got three players called Federico in the squad, so I call him Enrico!” joked Di Biagio, referencing the winger’s famous father.

“Chiesa is someone who can do everything, from midfield to wing-back. He has a good work ethic, intelligence, pace – what more can I add?

“He wasn’t playing much in the Fiorentina youth team, but myself and Paolo Vanoli (former Under-19 Coach) got the feeling he was about to explode on to the scene. We were right.

“You must learn to have patience with these lads, just like Atalanta and then Inter with Roberto Gagliardini.”

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