Juventus director Beppe Marotta explains why Serie A no longer relies on Italians. “It would’ve been unthinkable to see Bacary Sagna at Benevento.”
Turin-based newspaper La Stampa points out the last time a Serie A match kicked off with two line-ups made entirely of Italians was Empoli-Sampdoria in 2008.
“At the time, especially for clubs in the mid to lower half of the table, it was rare to seek foreign players,” said ex-Sampdoria director Marotta.
“That hunt for the foreigner became exasperated in the following decade because the quality of young Italian talent fell, but above all else even smaller clubs armed themselves with international scouting networks. There is now a greater selection and the opportunity to find players at cheaper costs.
“It’s unlikely we’ll ever see another Serie A match played only with Italian players, because we are in the era of globalisation. The relations with other countries have changed, as have strategies.
“Only a few years ago, it would’ve been unthinkable to see a player with the CV of Bacary Sagna playing for Benevento.
“However, foreign talent is important and the big clubs try to import the best in order to win, but playing many Italians does help form a sense of identity. It’s no coincidence that the Juventus era of domination had a core of Italians and one of our objectives now is to keep that relatively intact.”
What can Italian football do to revitalise the talent pool working from the grass roots?
“A policy of making the most of youth academies, building Federal Centres of training based on the German or Spanish model. It’s fundamental to invest on Coaches who are well-prepared.
“Having said all that, it is important not to fear foreign players. In fact, one of the limiting aspects of our football is the fact we cannot get passports for young players who were born in Italy, but have their roots in other countries. That is widely used around Europe.”