Thiago Motta could be Italy’s go to guy after an impressive season with Paris Saint-Germain, despite not playing in any of the Azzurri’s Euro 2016 qualifying matches under Antonio Conte.
The 33-year-old midfielder has had a great campaign in France with PSG, where he has already won the Ligue 1 title as well as performed well in the Champions League and in particular against Chelsea in the Round of 16.
In the two legs against the London club the Brazilian ‘Oriundo’ showed all his class. He was able to cover his defence effectively as well as distribute the ball very well.
When watching him in the defensive midfield role he strikes those watching as very similar to Andrea Pirlo in the way that he sets the tempo for his club side, but a major factor in his recent form is the fact that he has Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi alongside, two dynamic midfielders that do all the running for him.
Motta’s inclusion in the squad for the recent friendlies against Spain and Germany didn’t go down well in the media, with some questioning his first call up since a disastrous 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
However Conte wanted to nip those fears in the bud when questioned about the former Inter Treble-winner’s call-up. “Motta is a starter for PSG. I watched him, which is why I called him,” said the soon to be Chelsea Coach.
Against Spain the midfield of Motta and Marco Parolo did well, as the Lazio man did all the leg work while Motta controlled the game. Signs were good going into the match against world champions Germany, however Conte got it all wrong with his 3-4-3 line-up.
Riccardo Montolivo and Motta are two of the slowest players in the squad and they started as a double-pivot, but were unable to keep up with the Germans’ pace and provided no cover for their defence.
Without Parolo to run in the midfield, Motta’s lack of pace was exposed and although he reads the game well, his opponents were too quick for him.
The former Barcelona player will more than likely be competing head-to-head against Montolivo for one place when it comes to choosing the squad that will go to France.
Arguably under the right circumstances Thiago Motta could have a part to play in the starting XI, while Montolivo has struggled for form this season at Milan and should not go.
The best solution it seems would be a 4-3-3 formation with a midfield of Claudio Marchisio, Verratti and Motta, however the loss of the Juventus midfielder to injury creates a headache for Conte.
Italy need their midfield to be able to maintain possession as well as shield the back four, similar to the PSG system with two dynamic midfielders alongside Motta. This shape would give Italy a chance to make the most of their quality full-backs, central midfielders and wingers.
Unquestionably talented and intelligent, Motta also has another side to his game that perhaps gets him a bad name, as he’s often involved in controversy due to his hard-nosed attitude towards what he thinks is acceptable to put his opponent off.
You either love him or you hate him. He is a decent holding player, but he needs the right partner to be effective and experience could make him the right man to give the Azzurri a perfect balance in midfield.