‘We are worse off than Gareth Southgate!’ - Roberto Mancini makes England dig while bemoaning lack of upcoming Italian talent
- Italy host England in Euro qualifiers
- Mancini bemoans lack of upcoming talent
- Italy facing a shortage of strikers
WHAT HAPPENED? The England manager complained of a similar problem after announcing the England squad for the upcoming Euro qualifiers as the percentage of English footballers starting in the Premier League, eligible for an England call-up, fell from 32% to 28% in the last two weekends. Mancini insisted Italy are "worse off" than England, despite three Serie A sides - Napoli, AC Milan and Inter - qualifying for the last eight of the Champions League.
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WHAT THEY SAID: "We are worse off than Southgate. I don't know why there are so few strikers, we are very limited going forward. We have three teams in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but out of the three teams, there are seven or eight Italians at most. This is the reality," the manager stated.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Aside from Lazio's Ciro Immobile, who is out injured, there are no Italian strikers in the list of Serie A's top 10 goalscorers for this season. This has forced the former Manchester City coach to look at other leagues for options and has included 19-year-old Leeds United forward Wilfried Gnonto, Vincenzo Grifo of Freiburg and Gianluca Scamacca of West Ham United. While trying to explain the reason behind the shortage of players Mancini said: "We used to play for three or four hours on the street and then go to train, today this no longer happens. It is no coincidence that players are still discovered in those countries, such as Uruguay, Argentina or Brazil, where people still play a lot in the streets."
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WHAT NEXT? England take on Italy in Naples on Saturday in their first Euro 2024 qualifiers amid growing security concerns after receiving a "sinister" threat from the Ultras group.