Wednesday April 23 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Gabbiadini

Could Manolo Gabbiadini’s potential be worth gambling on this summer by Cesare Prandelli? Livio Caferoglu thinks maybe so.

In the midst of a national striking dilemma, polarised by conflicting views of the modern-day forward, Manolo Gabbiadini’s unique fusion of styles could bridge the gap in the Italy squad.

In a Utopian world, the Azzurri’s surplus of diminutive second strikers and old-fashioned marksmen would go hand-in-hand with each other, but the volatile nature of attackers and formations on the peninsula has meant there has been constant chopping-and-changing on the international front.

Many consider Christian Vieri to be Italy’s last truly complete No 9 and shades of the man who once commanded football’s largest transfer fee can be traced in Gabbiadini’s armoury once you look beyond the first similarity – the wispy mop of brown hair.

Born into a family with footballing pedigree and raised by Atalanta’s fruitful youth system, Manolo – younger brother of renowned women’s star Melania - is one of only nine Azzurrini who can boast about breaking into double figures at Under-21 level.

Such free-scoring exploits at youth level, however, did not immediately translate into senior success. The prolific form of German Denis, still spearheading the Atalanta attack, meant he encountered trouble breaking into Serie A consciousness with his hometown club.

What followed from Gabbiadini was a refreshing display of proactivity - in an era of over-indulgent young footballers - to prioritise his development, rather than allow himself to be suckered into the rumoured race for his signature which was trumpeted by his agent.

He showed enough promise in five goals and 27 appearances at Serie B side Cittadella to warrant a place in Stefano Colantuono’s plans in the subsequent season, and he spent the 2011-12 campaign honing his craft, as he kept a studious eye on more experienced colleagues.

“I am learning a lot from my teammates in training and during games,” he said at the time. “I pay close attention to quality players like Denis, Maxi Moralez and Simone Tiribocchi. They are greats and examples for me.”

A co-ownership deal involving Juventus and an Italy cap was Gabbiadini’s just reward for completing his first-team education, before he was immediately shipped out on loan to Bologna.

Although he struck just six times and found it difficult to maintain a rhythm during his stay at the Dall’Ara, due to the unbreakable bond of Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Diamanti and pressing matters of top-flight survival, his potential was evident in fits and spurts.

Since his move to Sampdoria last summer, Gabbiadini has flourished in a new wide-right position of a 4-2-3-1, where his thunderous left foot, deceptive pace and ability to adapt to different positions have been showcased more than ever.

However, it is this flexibility which could cost him an international career, akin to the situation of Claudio Marchisio. Can he lead the line or is he better suited in a support role? These are questions the man himself must answer on the pitch.

Plus, for all of his technical aptitude, Gabbiadini risks wasting his 1.86m stature, which he has criminally underused at professional level. It may point to why he has yet to record more than 10 goals in a single campaign, although he is capable of banishing that hoodoo before May.

Cesare Prandelli’s desperation to seek an alternative to Mario Balotelli has seen him persist with the likes of Alberto Gilardino and Dani Osvaldo, both of whom are deemed too one-dimensional to partner or rotate with the Milan striker.

Gabbiadini could do a lot worse than re-enact Balotelli’s conversion from a raw forward into a polished reference point of attack, and Italy could do the same in return by giving the boy from Bergamo another shot.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Italy's and Juventus' future attacking options could be amazing. Gabbiadini, Berardi, Zaza and Immobile have the talent to go right to the top. They just need the chance to grow naturally.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:41pm
Gabbiadini has a great potential, but isn't ready for this year's wc. In my opinion Prandelli should take the following players to Brazil:

Balotelli, Rossi, Immobile, Destro and Giovinco. Toni would be a good inclusion too if Prandelli wants his team to use the flanks... This selection of Players offers different player types and therefore a variety of attacking Solutions.
on the 29th April, 2014 at 12:21pm
Brazil has come too soon for him. He is a good player and has a lot of potential, but right now, I don't think that his end product is good enough. As a striker his goal record is quite poor, & as a winger, his assist's tally isn't great either. He has some exciting attributes, but needs to polish up his game more. It's a pity that B International's aren't being used any more. We have a huge pool of players & it would be a good way to gauge who can make the step-up.
on the 24th April, 2014 at 11:03am
Dont need him. Balotelli is all we need. Goal scorer, free kick specialist, everything italy need.
on the 24th April, 2014 at 8:28am
Not this time for Gabbiadini . He not yet prove himself enough.
on the 24th April, 2014 at 4:48am
I'm really looking forward to when Italy play Ireland @fullhamfc in May. My tickets have arrived today. I hope Cassano will be playing.

Forza Azzurri
on the 23rd April, 2014 at 9:52pm
@Jake...Before making statements maybe you should check facts. Check Balotelli's goal ratio for both club and country, not bad for a 23 year old I do not think.

Rossi - mediocre? I don't think so

Immobile, Destro, SES - certainly not mediocre, still to be proven, yes

I have a feeling Gabbiadini will be a late'ish bloomer, if he does conitnue to improve
on the 23rd April, 2014 at 8:45pm
"Balotelli is alright but he needs to score more often."

So sick of fans obsessing over this player as if he has the skill of Messi or CR9. If he 'needs to score more often', how can he be 'alright' for La Nazionale???

Prandelli, incompetent coward. We won't go past the round of 16.
on the 23rd April, 2014 at 8:04pm
Euro 2016 maybe if he starts to score more
on the 23rd April, 2014 at 4:59pm
Anonymous the world cup isn't next year
on the 23rd April, 2014 at 3:10pm
Gabbiadini is more of the same italian mediocrity. Italy haven't had any good strikers in 10 years now. Balotelli is alright but he needs to score more often.
on the 23rd April, 2014 at 2:50pm
Immobile, Destro, Balotelli, Rossi, Cerci, and Cassano say close but no cigar Mr Gabbiadini. Maybe next year….
on the 23rd April, 2014 at 2:00pm

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