Monday March 18 2019
'Italy surprised with Luiz Felipe'

Luigi Di Biagio admits he is ‘surprised’ by Luiz Felipe pulling out of the Italy Under-21 squad but ‘respects’ the decision taken by the Lazio defender.

Luiz Felipe was summoned for Italy U21’s upcoming friendlies against Austria and Croatia, but the 21-year-old declined the call-up, instead pledging his international allegiance to Brazil.

“The lad had a change of heart, he feels more Brazilian than Italian,” Di Biagio said at a Press conference.

“It’s a decision we have to respect and we’ve taken note of it. He didn’t refuse the call-up. He showed up and expressed his state of mind.

“It surprised us and I’m disappointed because I wanted to see if he could’ve been a useful player for us, but his decision must be respected.

“Players need to be 100 percent convinced to join up with the national team. If not then it’s right to make these decisions.”

Italy CT Roberto Mancini selected several Under-21 regulars in his latest squad, including Nicolo Zaniolo and Moise Kean, so what does the Azzurrini boss make of it all?

“The senior squad takes priority,” he replied.

“I talk to Mancini every day. In June I’ll pick the best team I can take to the European Championship.

“It’s still too early to know who will be part of the group. The priority is to give players to senior squad.

“In June I’ll have all the players who I can call up because we mustn’t forget that the national team will have two crucial games for the 2020 European Championship in June.

“I’ll look over everything with Mancini. There are 15-16 players in my head, who will certainly be part of the group.

“After that, there are 10-12 players playing for 6-7 places. Right now, I have to work with my second choices.”