Tuesday November 28 2017
Cannavaro: ‘Protect Italian players’

Fabio Cannavaro believes Italian football must be “selfish” and prioritise Italian players over foreigners.

The Azzurri failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, prompting much soul searching about the issues which led to the play-off defeat to Sweden, and the former captain gave his own views.

“We still haven’t realised what happened,” Cannavaro, Coach of Guangzhou Evergrande, told Corriere della Sera.

“Tavecchio resigned, but now silence has fallen. It’s time for someone to put their face forward and decide on some new rules, the recovery can only start from that.

“We’ve won four World Cups, we’re respected. Sometimes we don’t give enough importance to ourselves and look to others, but for years we’ve been a reference point.

“Is there too much fetishisation of the foreign way? Yes, both on the pitch and off it.

“Winning in [2006] hurt us more than helped, because we stopped looking at the youth teams. The only model to follow is the German one.

“We need to teach the basics of technique, co-ordination and one-on-ones. Instead I hear talk of back-fours and offside: Coaches shouldn’t vent their frustrations on young players.

“In the World Cup semi-final I made an advance from which I did something that brought a goal [Alessandro Del Piero’s for 2-0] and it was taught to me by my first Coach.

“Nowadays I see players who let the ball bounce or don’t know how to lift their feet.

“At this point in time we have to be selfish and protect the development our players. Foreigners make the difference, but if they’re of the same quality we prefer Italians.

“It’s not racist, but at youth level our lads develop more slowly than the others.

Cannavaro is the last Italian to win a Ballon d’Or, how long will it be until the next?

“I hope not too long. But we’re lacking a [Francesco] Totti, a [Roberto] Baggio, a Del Piero. [Lorenzo] Insigne hasn’t done it at international level yet.”

The former centre-back was then asked whether Carlo Ancelotti should be the next CT.

“Carlo is perfect, but he’d mask the problems. First of all we have to change the rules and the size of the leagues. There aren’t the players to support 42 teams across Serie A and Serie B.

“Would I do the job? I’ve signed in China for five years, I can grow here and there are so many better than me.

“We have a plethora of ex footballers like Baggio or [Paolo] Maldini, but we hide them.

“Let’s put [Gigi] Buffon as President of the FIGC, I see his future and [Andrea] Pirlo’s behind a desk.”

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