Argentina Head Coach Jorge Sampaoli told the press on Thursday “I’d like to have Mario Balotelli as my player” after the Nice forward was left out of the Italian squad to face Argentina and England. Despite the strikers impressive form Luigi Di Biagio decided against his inclusion and one can only suspect with the Azzuri not going to the World Cup he’s focused on providing the likes of Simone Verdi and Patrick Cutrone with some valuable experience.
Sampaoli went on to say “We’re talking about a great player, with skill and passion for the game. Those are the reasons I admire him.” But perhaps the Casilda born coach ought to worry about his own selection troubles and his bizarre decision to overlook Inter captain Mauro Icardi who scored four goals as recently as last weekend and Juventus starlet Paulo Dybala.
The Albiceleste as per usual have an array of attacking talent to choose from and so it was never going to be an easy decision but I’d question whether Diego Perotti (Roma) or Joaoquin Correa (Sevilla) would deserve to go to Russia ahead of the two aforementioned forwards. When speaking about Dybala he had this to say “We thought Dybala was one of the top in the national team, but with the passage of time maybe he hasn’t been able to adapt to our ideas. He’s struggling to fit in. He generates a lot of points for his club as an anarchist footballer, and that’s made him a big name in world football. Either we didn’t understand where to use him or he couldn’t adapt to our ideas, which are totally different to his club. We have to evaluate whether there are those who are better than him, or if we have to strengthen Paulo.”
He did however; refuse to shut the door on Mauro Icardi clearly stating “I’m not ruling him out”. Make of that what you will but it’s becoming increasingly evident that the 2015 Copa America winner simply doesn’t fancy the pair, perhaps it’s a tactical thing, it has to be.
Those participating this summer will use the upcoming friendly fixtures as an opportunity to evaluate their options and experiment whereas in Italy the general feeling is that with no World Cup to look forward to it’s about giving the youngsters a chance to shine and grooming them ahead of the Euro 2020 qualification campaign.