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Italy have plenty of players like Bellingham, says Mancini

Roberto Mancini has called on coaches to hand regular playing time to Italy’s brightest talents ahead of their bid to reach Euro 2024.

Juventus' Italian midfielder Fabio Miretti (C) controls the ball during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Spezia on August 31, 2022 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

Roberto Mancini believes that there are four or five young Italian players who are at the same level as England’s Jude Bellingham, but the Azzurri boss says coaches must be brave enough to give them playing time. Having failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, European champions Italy will get their campaign to defend the trophy under way against England in March.

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England’s run to the last eight in Qatar saw a number of young players – including Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham and Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka – come to the fore. Mancini however says Italy doesn’t lack similarly talented young players. The Azzurri’s problem, he says, lies in coaches’ reluctance to hand them top-level experience.

I think Italy have four or five talents with the quality of Bellingham, but they need to be given playing time,” Mancini said at a press conference on Wednesday. “There are talented young people, I hope they can play and gain experience with their clubs to be useful to us. In England, the Netherlands or Germany, if a player is talented, he will be allowed to play. Here we’ve got four or five at this level, but they need to play.”

New blood in attack

Italy scored just 13 goals in eight games as they finished below Switzerland in their World Cup qualification group, before falling to a crushing play-off defeat against North Macedonia. Mancini has made revamping Italy’s attack a priority ahead of their next campaign, saying: “In the past there was a lack of defenders or midfielders, today we don’t have great forward players. We are trying to find them. If we succeed, it will be a good thing. Gianluca Scamacca, for example, is gaining good experience, the Premier League is difficult. Young people have to play, in Italy or abroad. In our opinion, there are quality players, the hope is to have them gain more experience. Do the coaches lack the courage? The coaches have to achieve results, so each pursues his own course.”


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