There is often a feel around the time of an international tournament that anything is possible when it comes to Azzurri squad selection. Emanuele Giaccherini may have faced a tough period in his club career, yet for the international team, he has as strong as case as any to be a surprise inclusion in Antonio Conte’s squad for the European Championships.
Since the current Italy boss Conte oversaw the sale of Giaccherini from Juventus to Sunderland, his career stagnated in England. He has only played five times for his country, scoring once against Nigeria. Yet overall, his international career is fairly impressive, with 23 appearances, as well as holding the record for the fastest goal in the national side’s history, after 19 seconds against Haiti.
Age is perhaps not on his side, but under Conte we have seen that age is little more than a number in his squad selections, often preferring the likes of Graziano Pellè to Mario Balotelli.
Giaccherini has shown signs he can still play a part for his country during his loan move at Bologna, with seven goals in 25 appearances (just seven fewer appearances than he has had in two years at Sunderland).
He shows hard work as well as experience, after being a focal point of Cesare Prandelli’s Italy side that got to the final of the last European Championships, playing in a 3-5-2 formation. While it may potentially be too late for the winger to push himself up the pecking order, his hard work in both defence and attack will at least give his national manager another option to consider for his 23-man squad.
What may be most unfortunate for Giaccherini is the wealth of talent that Conte has at his disposal in that particular position. This is by no means anything new, but with the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy returning to Italy and finding form at Roma, as well as similar talents like Giacomo Bonaventura, Eder, Lorenzo Insigne and Sebastian Giovinco, to name but a few, the Bologna man may be kicking himself that he found his form so late on.
He will definitely be considered among the candidates, there is of course a preliminary 30-man squad selection. Getting into that will be tricky enough, staying in the final 23-man squad may be an entirely different challenge for the dynamic winger.