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Thursday September 5 2019
Young Azzurri gearing up for 2020

Italy are on the cusp of Euro 2020 qualification, so Vijay Rahaman looks at the young players building towards a spot in the Azzurri squad.

While there are some established stars and those consistently in the squad, what new players could Roberto Mancini look to for the future? A few of them are already in the Nazionale squad facing Armenia this evening and Finland on Sunday, but the 2020 Serie A odds here point to them increasing their Azzurri profile.

Alex Meret (Napoli)

Not so long ago, there was genuine concern about the goalkeeping position for Italy, as the legendary Gianluigi Buffon neared his retirement. With the emergence of Gigio Donnarumma at Milan, the gloves for the national team are in safe hands, but Napoli shot-stopper Meret is also one to keep a close eye on. The 22-year old came through the Udinese set-up, solidified his game at SPAL and earned a big money move to the Stadio San Paolo. He is agile between the sticks, good on crosses and has improved with the ball at his feet in recent times, which can be an invaluable addition to the Azzurri set-up, considering the team is fully ingrained into building from the back under Mancini. While Donnarumma is the undisputed Number 1, Meret is a more than able back-up for the national team. 

Luca Pellegrini (Cagliari)

Roma youth product Pellegrini joined Juventus in a €22m deal as part of the exchange with Leonardo Spinazzola, but was subsequently loaned to Cagliari, where he had spent the second half of last campaign. The left-back, like Pinamonti, has represented Italy at every age group level and played at this summer's Under-20 World Cup, where the Azzurrini finished fourth. Currently, Italy's weakest position is at wing-back, with neither Emerson Palmieri nor Christian Biraghi being guaranteed starters, which leaves the possibility of someone like Pellegrini to step in and make the position his own, should he continue to progress.

Sandro Tonali (Brescia)

The Lodi born teenager has been hitting the headlines for over a year now with his assured performances for Brescia in Serie B. The deep-lying playmaker has so far collected five goals and nine assists in 56 matches with the Lombardy club, but it's his pin-point passes, his calmness on the ball and his ability to never seem under pressure that prompted comparisons to Andrea Pirlo. Arguably, the strongest part of Italy's team is the midfield, with Jorginho, Nicolò Barella and Marco Verratti having formed a formidable trio under Mancini so far, plus Stefano Sensi and Bryan Cristante rapidly gaining ground. There is no reason why Tonali can't throw his name in the hat for a midfield role and indeed he is in the squad to replace injured Cristante.

Rolando Mandragora (Udinese)

The Neapolitan central midfielder is a mature and calming influence in the middle of the park, cited by the fact that he is the Under-21 captain. The recently turned 22-year old has already gained experience playing at Genoa, Pescara, Juventus and Crotone, before landing at the Dacia Arena to play with Udinese. Besides his solid play, he can score the odd spectacular strike, as his 30-yard volley against Genoa in March showed.

Riccardo Orsolini (Bologna)

Tricky winger Orsolini has found a home at Bologna after the Emilia-Romagna club bought the 22-year-old on a permanent transfer from Juventus. He had a fantastic second half of last season under the tutelage of Sinisa Mihajlovic. The Ascoli-born wide man is naturally left footed, but garnered 10 goals in 37 games from his preferred position on the right side of attack, as the club pulled themselves up from 18th place in January to finish in the top 10. Mancini has so far employed a 4-3-3 tactic and Orsolini can definitely fit the position of the right side of the attack in the future.

Andrea Pinamonti (Genoa)

The striker came through the Inter youth academy, but he is about to enter his second straight season on loan, this time to Genoa, after having spent last year at Frosinone. The 20-year old has played for every Italy youth level, scoring goals aplenty, but in addition to that, his work rate and ability to connect crisply with his teammates really stand him out. With Fabio Quagliarella being at the veteran stage of his career, and young strikers Moise Kean and Patrick Cutrone perhaps not getting as much playing time, there is a chance if Pinamonti has a break-out year with the Grifone to find himself in Italy's set up.

Have your say...
Am in the only one who's not impressed by Mandragora at all? Maybe he has a great mentality in the dressing room or something but he seems so average.
on the 5th September, 2019 at 10:43pm
It is quite natural for Italy to have a bunch of talented players. Never doubted the Italian youth system, however, would be really good to see them play more often for their teams in Serie A to gain more experience and develop their natural skills. As a fan of Italian football especially Azzurri, I am satisfied so far with Mancini's work. Would be nice to see Italy play against Brazil, Argentina, Holland, France, Germany & Spain; even if results comes to be negative but experience is needed.
on the 5th September, 2019 at 1:59pm
why is your writing so bad and boring?
on the 5th September, 2019 at 1:25pm

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