Friday April 4 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Toni

Could Luca Toni’s Indian summer with Verona see him enjoy next summer in Brazil with the Italy squad? Sam Lewis considers the veteran’s chances.

Despite being the grand old age of 36, veteran Luca Toni has turned what was originally seen as a twilight spell at newly promoted Hellas Verona into one of the more surprising success stories in Serie A, as both he and the Gialloblu have defied expectations with their performances so far this season.

Toni’s career began 20 years ago at Modena, and has since spanned 16 clubs and brought more than 200 career goals from 14 teams in Italy alone, most notably from his spells for Palermo and Fiorentina, which earned the forward a move to German giants Bayern Munich in 2007.

Toni won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, but a lacklustre spell for Juventus during the 2011-12 season had many thinking that the striker’s career was on the wane, seemingly confirmed by a move to Arabian side Al Nasr in the summer of 2012.

However, a return to Florence just six months later laid the foundation for Toni’s spell in Verona, where as the focal point of Hellas’s attack he has so far scored 15 goals and assisted seven more.

Not blessed with tricky feet like fellow countrymen Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano, Toni’s game hasn’t changed all that much over the course of his career. Relying on his 6’4 frame and impressive leap, Toni is the prototypical centre forward, dominating defenders despite his growing years.

His head has been his main source of goals throughout the season, as is the trend for his career, but the 36-year-old’s awareness and ability to find teammates make him more of a complete package than stereotype would suggest.

Toni has never been called up to the Italy squad by Cesare Prandelli, his last game in savoy blue coming in a 3-0 loss to Brazil in July 2009. After being left out of predecessor Marcello Lippi’s provisional squad for the 2010 qualifying campaign and the World Cup tournament itself, Toni’s international career stalled.

However, given the anxiety over Giuseppe Rossi’s availability this summer, the poor form of Dani Osvaldo and the desperate need to have a stable back-up to the mercurial Mario Balotelli, Luca Toni provides a solid, experienced alternative that could be a valuable addition to Prandelli’s young Italy.

Toni is close to the form that earned him the starting job for La Nazionale in 2006, ahead of stars like Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Del Piero and the then exciting Alberto Gilardino, and Vincenzo Iaquinta, who was in the form of his life. Could history repeat itself and see Toni make the squad alongside Balotelli, ahead of Rossi and the likes of Ciro Immobile and Mattia Destro?

Despite it being unlikely given his absence from Cesare Prandelli’s squads in the run-up to the World Cup and any other time during his tenure as Azzurri Coach, rumours of considerations being given to fellow veterans Antonio Cassano and Francesco Totti mean that Luca Toni may just have a chance of making a push for another turn in a fascinating career.

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Have your say...
Mm you on something? Toni has been scoring! I think he could go just as a plan B last 10 if we are losing stick him in for the long ball! Plus he could be more use than gilardino and osvaldo
on the 4th April, 2014 at 9:39pm
Are you from this planet? Goal machine? Balotelli? Luca Toni has scored more this season and he hasn't taken 12 penalties! Not to mention he plays in a lesser team with far less service. You only say this because of what number comes up next to his age on his wikipedia page. But if Balotelli moves like a 60 year old what exactly is the difference? If you knew anything you would understand that Toni is a legend of the sport and while age will slow you down somewhat, you DONT forget how to play.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 9:32pm
PLEASE Prandelli, bring Balotelli, Insigne, Destro, Cassano, Rossi and Immobile and maybe another forward to replace Rossi if he goes down. Maybe Cerci or Diamanti. I don't want to see Gilardino in Brasil. If guys like Toni and Gilardino are getting serious consideration, then Totti should definitely go. I can't stand Osvaldo. I'm OK with Motta going but Osvaldo and Paletta should not go. If he takes 2 of the 3 oriundi, hopefully its Motta and Paletta.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 9:08pm
It's crazy you all say no Luca,,,, he is a useful striker to have to come on,,,, you think immobile is going to lay fear on top defenders??have you guys never heard that a players name is 30 per cent of fear???? And why are you guys asking for no motto?????? He ran the show against Chelsea!!seriously I cannot believe what I am reading!! Also Ballotelli,,,for the record,,,,,does not score no where near as many goals as Luca,,,please before you guys talk...look at the facts,,,, Toni is presence!!
on the 4th April, 2014 at 9:00pm
To all you fellow bloggers,,,,
Sorry,,,,but you don't get it to do??? Luca Toni is quality,he is a beast of a striker, what are you all talking about?? He doesn't score??of course he scores,,,, he's a handful for any defence he has class he has experience,,, he deserves to go, he is much better than gilardino,, I really cannot believe what I am reading!! This guy is fantastic,,you obviously have not heard of fear factor??imagine being a defender and having Luca Toni come on for second half??
on the 4th April, 2014 at 8:54pm

If I have the same stupid analogy that Prandelli has, I would definitely pick Toni, that is picking the same stupid line of atteckers that he allows picks. But, I don't know why he contradicts himself (as it seems to me)

1. He's more talented than Osvaldo.
2. He's more reliable than Gilardino.
3. He's more professional than Balotelli.
4. He scores goals more than them !!

So, why not Toni !?
Pepe, Quaglia, Toni can out-perform those useless-unreliable.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 8:34pm
I agree with Riccardo. They would be my 6 strikers as well. Toni and Totti must stay at home with Gilardino, please not Gila. Cesare should be calling Jorginho he is top draw. Osvaldo is a waste of space he was crap against lyon. 3rd goalkeeping spot should be between Perin and Scuffet although i dont rate Sirigu.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 8:25pm
If Rumour has it that Totti will not go....the forward players should be Insigne, G.Rossi, Cassano, Balotelli, Immobile, Destro.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 6:44pm
I think its bad enough we are almost certainly going to be bring oswaldo, giladino and balotelli- all we need to finish of the 'creme della creme' of attackers is another half with who couldnt score in a brothel! Toni is about as useful as a chocolate teapot, we need back up for 'goal machine' that is balotelli- by back up I mean some that can actually score!
on the 4th April, 2014 at 6:28pm
Totti needs to make the flight along with Cassano.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 6:21pm
No! He is almost a rubbish as gilardino. Please leave him at home!
I struggle to see how anyone is not seeing that prandelli is all talk and no action! you could put your house on seeing every single flop we dont want to see and players like immob, destro, verratti, insigne will be either left out altogether or be included but not put on at all in whole wc (which will be a very short campaign if he picks in favourites and the players whos names are bigger than their talent!!!)
on the 4th April, 2014 at 6:19pm
I just heard Totti was not invited to Coverciani- he is essential even at 37- as for Toni talk immobile
on the 4th April, 2014 at 6:15pm
with all due respect to Luca Toni...this should never happen... please right a blog entitled....Prandellis love affair with Oriundi ..Paletta Motta and Osvaldo the three not so wise men... they are not Italian and play with no heart... they couldnt even get on the rosters of their true countries

we have quality ...use it!!!
on the 4th April, 2014 at 6:14pm
Why people always talk about the oldies for Italy WC squad? Thank God Prandelli doesn't seem to agree, otherwise we would end up with 6 veteran strikers: Toni, Gilardino, Di Natale, Totti, Cassano and Pazzini. It's good nobody mentions Di Vaio...... yet!
on the 4th April, 2014 at 6:01pm
Luca Toni is my favourite footballer, and has been for a decade. Im gutted he never signed for my club Milan (especially in '07 before he left for Bayern, as we were very interested)
But, as much as I love Luca Toni- there is no way he should be on the plane. Prandelli is all about style, and control/technique in possession. Unfortunately Toni is not that kind of player, with the ball at his feet he is very average.
Destro, Gabbiadini and Immobile should all be way above in the pecking order.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 5:58pm

Here you go talking about flops, and then in the next post you mention Gio should be on a plane to Brazil? Because of one good match?
on the 4th April, 2014 at 5:34pm
Back in 2006 most Italian players were in their peak playing career including Toni. From the flanks Zambrotta & Grosso bombarded De Rossi & Pirlo picked up any attacker continuously & then there was Totti who famously flicks the ball on/through/in with opposition even not knowing whats happening and guess how many goals did this on form scored with all the help he had?
Just 2.
after ensuring Destero, Cerci & Immobile then I would pick Elsharawi, Borini, Pazzini Di Natale & Berardi ahead of him
on the 4th April, 2014 at 4:35pm
No one on this site speaking about Giovinco's performance last night???? He should be another player on that Brazil plane.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 3:31pm
If Prandelli takes Toni to Brazil...can the last person to leave Italy please turn out the lights. Also, I would add that if he takes the proven flops Giladino, Motta, Monty, Maggio, Candreva then Italy will not get out the group. I'd like to see players like Cerci, Verratti, Destro, Cassano on the plane to Brazil. Why does Prandelli always pick obvious under achievers? He states he doesn't like egos, apart from his own it seems.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 3:03pm
No thanks.
on the 4th April, 2014 at 2:36pm

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