Saturday October 10 2020
De Zerbi: 'Players like Locatelli are rare'

Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi explains what makes Ciccio Caputo so suited to Roberto Mancini's Italy, while ‘people haven’t realised just how good’ Manuel Locatelli is.

The Neroverdi have had a bright start to the season, picking up seven points from three rounds, while veteran striker Francesco Caputo scored on his senior Italy debut.

“Ciccio knows how to score, but can also play well, which is something extra for a centre-forward,” De Zerbi told Radio Deejay.

“He is intelligent and can set up his teammates for goal-scoring situations too. He’s well-suited to the way Roberto Mancini’s Italy plays, but he’s not as instinctive as Toto Schillaci was. People are too quick to judge players as being of one level or another, but he just needed time to play and gain belief in himself in Serie A competition.”

Locatelli was another Sassuolo player who impressed when playing for Italy in the 5-0 friendly win over Moldova.

“It was Locatelli who made the change from one day to the next, not me. He changed the way he trained, he behaved within the squad and he deserves all the credit for that.

“He’s a great talent, one who sees the play before anyone else. I don’t think people have yet realised just how good Locatelli is and I feel a midfielder like that comes along very rarely in Italy.”

The Neroverdi coach is hoping to achieve great progress with Maxime Lopez, who arrived on loan from Olympique Marseille.

“We were looking for a player who was functional to our style of football. He doesn’t win the ball back with his physicality, but with a change of pace. He’s suited to Sassuolo.”

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