Euro 2020: Italy’s Ones to Watch Ahead of the Summer

?For the first time in a while, it’s a genuinely exciting time to watch the Italian national team. 

It wasn’t three years ago that they hit their lowest ebb in 60 years as they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup; they looked disjointed, they lacked direction, and it was increasingly unclear if they would ever get back to being competitive on the international stage. 

That was until the galvanising arrival of Roberto Mancini. The former ?Manchester City and Inter boss swiftly picked his players up, dusted them down, and coached them to a remarkable qualifying campaign in which they took on all comers with aplomb.

Riccardo Orsolini

They won 10/10 to storm to the finals, the energy of youth taking centre stage where the former stale, tired formula had once reined supreme, and before us now stands a team realistically hopeful that their young guns can fire them to glory. 

Here, we’ve had a look at the brightest talents available to the Azzurri, to give you some idea who to look out for this summer, and in the decade ahead.


Nicolo Barella

Mancini’s trademark so far has been a fluid 4-3-3 system, relying heavily on creativity from midfield to supply Ciro Immobile and whichever of the rotating cast of wide forwards are selected at any given time. 

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For the most part, Jorginho has sat at the base of that, with PSG playmaker Marco Verratti operating between the lines on one side of him. The other midfield role ought to have been up for grabs heading into the tournament, but the rapid-fire emergence of Nicolo Barella has ensured each of the midfield roles are well and truly nailed down. 

The ?Inter man has gone from strength to strength under Antonio Conte in ?Serie A and his progression into one of the most promising and efficient midfielders around has been echoed on the international stage. He earned the praise of Andrea Pirlo while starring for Cagliari, and as he has matured he has shown an ability to judiciously balance his game, while remaining a real threat in the attacking third; as his five goal-involvements in qualifying will testify. 


Sandro Tonali

Perhaps only injury could part a midfield triumvirate yielding such success for Mancini so far; but it isn’t without its invaluable backup options. In the case of Jorginho, there is a prominent heir-apparent in Brescia’s teenage sensation Sandro Tonali. 

Sandro Tonali

Perhaps not the strongest in the tackle nor the most physically imposing, the 19-year-old more than compensates with an intelligence and composure on the ball unrivalled by any of his immediate peers. Starring in Brescia’s promotion to Serie A, his decision to stay over the summer has proved fruitful, as he now stars on a weekly basis in the top flight, and looks set to be joining up with his country’s senior side once again this summer. 


Gaetano Castrovilli

Fiorentina’s Gaetano Castrovilli is another who has benefited from time spent out of the limelight in Italy’s lower leagues. The 22-year-old arrived at La Viola from Serie C side Bari in 2017, subsequently joining Cremonese for a spell in the second tier which grew him into the playmaker that is now a fixture for his parent club. 


On the international stage he lacks experience; only making his debut in a November cameo vs Bosnia-Herzegovina; but he is highly-rated among the Italy camp, and if his current form keeps up then it won’t be long before he can make a real case for himself as a starter. 


Nicolo Zaniolo (Injured)

The central midfield ranks are stacked, but further up the park there is no shortage of talent either. Roma starlet Nicolo Zaniolo will miss this summer’s Euros with a cruciate injury, but long-term he offers an option to Mancini unlike anything else he has available. 

Nicolo' Zaniolo

It’s tricky to define him as a player; not quite a central midfielder, not quite a number ten, not quite a winger; more a combination of all three. Standing at 6ft 2, he offers an imposing, unconventional attacking threat, and although he tends to do his best work from the right flank, he can equally be deployed as an attacking alternative in midfield. 

His versatility and abstruse positional ability means he has shifted about the Roma midfield a bit, but was nonetheless a fixture of the side before injury struck. Make no mistake, however; he’ll be back. 


Federico Chiesa

If he is to start as Italy’s right-winger going forward, however, he’ll have some competition; namely from Federico Chiesa, a name already very well-known to football fans in Italy and beyond. He has struggled to hit the heights he can this season, owing mainly to Fiorentina’s struggles, but has been trusted as a key part of Mancini’s plans; and that will be amplified with Zaniolo sitting out. 

Federico Chiesa,Kamo Hovhannisyan

He has competition from his namesake Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne for a starting berth, but the 22-year-old’s potential knows no bounds; nor does his explosive creative ability down the right hand side. 

Of course, that’s just a select few of the highly-promising stars in the Italy ranks. There is no shortage of potentially generational talent emerging from the academies all over the country, and as excited as the Azzuri have the right to be ahead of Euro 2020, you get the feeling it is only the beginning.


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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Everton Boss Carlo Ancelotti Eyeing Up Inter Milan Midfielder Matias Vecino

Everton are looking at bringing in Inter Milan midfielder Matias Vecino before the January window closes, according to reports.

The Toffees recently appointed three-time Champions League winning manager Carlo Ancelotti, and are still expected to back him in the transfer market, despite the limited time remaining.

One area of the squad the Italian is keen to improve on is the midfield department, where Jean-Phillipe Gbamin and André Gomes have suffered long-term injuries.


And it appears that he has identified his target to solve that problem in the shape of Inter Milan’s Uruguayan central midfielder Matias Vecino.

According to a report from ?Gazetta dello Sport, this will cost the Toffees in the region of €20m.

The 28-year-old is understood to be open to the move, and has made it known that he would be happy to end up at Goodison Park.

FC Internazionale v Genoa CFC - Serie A

Vecino has played an important role as ?Inter look to break ?Juventus’ eight-year stranglehold on the Serie A title.

He has made 17 appearances for Antonio Conte’s side, scoring twice and assisting one more for his team.

This deal is set to be one of many Inter are looking to complete before the end of the winter transfer window, with Matteo Politano set to leave to join ?Napoli, and the club looking to bring in ?Tottenham’s ?Christian Eriksen and ?Chelsea’s ?Olivier Giroud by Friday’s deadline.

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Vecino would bring some much-needed creativity in an ?Everton midfield that has struggled this season due to the poor form of Gylfi Sigurdsson and injuries to key players like ?Fabian Delph and ?Gomes.

He would be Ancelotti’s first signing for the Toffees after taking over at Goodison Park in December.

Despite another £100m+ summer spend on transfers, Everton still found themselves in the relegation zone by the time Marco Silva was sacked.

Since his arrival, Ancelotti has been able to lift the club up to 12th position, although they were embarrassingly defeated by an understrength ?Liverpool side in the FA Cup third round.

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The Bulls**t-O-Meter: Ranking How Ridiculous This Week’s Transfer Rumours Really Are

Ah, transfer rumours. Simultaneously the best friend and worst enemy of the football writer. 

In truth, we rarely know if they’re true or not; but it rarely matters. All that matters is they exist, and for better or worse, they give us all something to talk about. 

But while we can’t say with absolute certainty whether Kylian Mbappé is going to ?Liverpool or if Manchester United are going to finally get their act together in the transfer market, we can have an educated guess, thanks to the cutting-edge technology here at 90min. Think of it as rumour VAR.

Yes, less than two weeks since ?its last outing, the famous Bulls**t-o-Meter is back to run the rule over everything that has come to light in the last week or so. 


Steven Bergwijn

Dutch Eredivisie"Training PSV Eindhoven"

?Linked Clubs: Tottenham

One that has really only come to light over the weekend, the Dutch wonder-kid fast becoming a wonder-man is r?eported in his native Netherlands to be verging on a January move to Spurs. 

There’s little to say this one won’t happen; except perhaps the sheer speed at which it has emerged from nothingness. He’s affordable (even for Tottenham) and long overdue a move away from PSV, where even his extraordinary goal and assist numbers have been unable to drag them into a title challenge this season. 

Even PSV coach Ernest Fabian has admitted the player is in talks over a move away; this one looks, for all the world, as if it’s happening. 

Possibility of Future Transfer: Nailed On

Likelihood of January Move: Very Strong

BULLS**T-O-METER RATING: 1/10


Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud

Linked Clubs: Aston Villa, Barcelona, Inter

Giroud’s January move to Chelsea in 2018 was perhaps the most January transfer in the history of January transfers. Some say it even invented the January transfer window; that theory defies all logic and reason, but so too does the basic concept of Olivier Giroud, so who knows?

Anyway, a whole smattering of clubs ranging from Premier League relegation strugglers to the champions of Spain are said to be in the running. He looks a sensible short-term addition for literally any of them, and he certainly doesn’t look to have a future at Chelsea. 

There is of course plenty of lazy, ill-informed reporting on his situation doing the rounds, but at the core of it all you would imagine there is no shortage of truth in the widespread interest. 

Possibility of Future Transfer: Highly Likely

Likelihood of January Move: Moderate

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 3/10


James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez

?Linked Clubs: Arsenal, Everton

James Rodriguez’s once-unbounded potential has buckled under injury in recent years, and now he sits unfancied at Real Madrid; who are now prepared to sell him for around half of what they paid to acquire him back in 2014. 

However, he remains a favourite of Carlo Ancelotti – the man who initially brought him to Madrid – so with the Italian’s arrival at Everton came plenty talk about a hugely-ambitious and ostensibly far-fetched move to Goodison Park for the Colombian. 

Arsenal are also said to be in the frame, and while neither can be disproved, it’s one of those that would have to be seen to be believed. 

Possibility of Future Transfer: Nailed On

Likelihood of January Move: Low to Moderate

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 5/10


Philippe Coutinho?

Philippe Coutinho ,

?Linked Clubs: Arsenal, Liverpool

Jesus, now we’re getting into it. The Brazilian’s stock has fallen steadily ever since his controversial departure from Anfield, and even a loan spell to Bayern Munich – which initially promised much – has failed to stop the rot.

His parent club don’t want him and his current suitors don’t want him, so his future looks very much in limbo. A return to the Premier League has been subject to much discussion over the last week or so, although it seems highly unlikely that will be back to Liverpool – a rumour that continues to persist despite it making absolutely no sense whatsoever given how the Reds have evolved since his departure. 

A January move is of course a near-impossibility, but a summer switch to the likes of Arsenal isn’t quite out of the picture. 

Still, you get the sense that very little of the speculation here is thoroughly-researched – or researched at all. 

Possibility of Future Transfer: Probably

Likelihood of January Move: Non-existent

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 7/10


Dimitri Payet

FRA-LIGUE1-RENNES-MARSEILLE

?Linked Clubs: West Ham

“Wait, what?” 

– you, just there, probably. 

Yes, it seems the man who left West Ham shrouded in controversy in 2017, because he didn’t want to play in the ‘lower reaches’ of the Premier League, is being linked with a return to West Ham, who currently reside in the ‘lower reaches’ of the Premier League. 

That’s despite the fact he’s currently 32, and very much enjoying his football in France’s second-best team – a team whose chairman recently said he won’t entertain any offers for players this month unless it simply ‘cannot be refused’.  

Everything about this one screams ‘absolutely not.’

Possibility of Future Transfer: Lukewarm

Likelihood of January Move: ffs no

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 8/10


Sergio Agúero

Sergio Aguero

Linked Clubs: Inter Miami

What’s that overbearing stench that seems to have taken over the room? Oh, it’s just this stinking, festering turd of a transfer rumour. Nothing to see here. 

Believe it or not, yes, this is a ?thing that is being reported. Sergio Agúero, the same Sergio Agúero showing absolutely no signs of slowing down with 21 goals in 23 appearances this season, is apparently heading to MLS.

Even allowing for the unlikely event that he is to leave City this summer (he has 18 months left on his deal and is playing at the very top of his game, so go figure) why on earth would he be heading to wind down in MLS? In this unlikely hypothetical universe there is a queue encompassing several blocks for his signature, and that’s just the major European clubs in contention. 

David Silva? That’s another matter – he’s three years further along in his development and his departure has been announced a year in advance. 

Agúero though? Come on, try harder.

Possibility of Future Transfer: Reasonable

Likelihood of January Move: Behave

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 10/10


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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Doesn’t Regret Selling Romelu Lukaku & Has No Fears Over Job Security

?Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims he has no regrets over selling striker Romelu Lukaku in the summer, and believes he has the full backing of Manchester United’s hierarchy.

A 2-0 home defeat to Burnley in their last Premier League fixture epitomised the Red Devils’ plight in recent seasons, with pressure exponentially rising on Solskjaer.

Marcus Rashford’s long-term injury, sustained in an FA Cup replay with Wolves, has left Man United short of talent and depth in attacking areas, while also leading to criticism for the way in which the Manchester club handled the forward’s back problem.

Romelu Lukaku,Ole Gunnar Solskjaer


As a result, many have been left pondering why United decided to let go of ?Lukaku in the summer – a player who has scored 16 goals in all competitions for Inter this season. But Solskjaer seemingly has no regrets over selling the Belgian.

As quoted by the ?Sunday Times, the United boss said: “I have not thought, ‘Oh, I wish I had kept him.’ Some of those we let go were not right for the culture. 

“That is just my belief and why we kept the players with the right attitude. They will run through a brick wall for the club — not everyone did.”

The injury to ?Rashford has led to much speculation about who ?Man Utd could sign to replace the English forward. However, the closest the Red Devils have come to making a signing in January is midfielder Bruno Fernandes of Sporting CP – a transfer saga that appears to have no end in sight.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

But regardless of winter additions or poor performances, and results, Solskjaer still believes he has the full backing of those above him at Old Trafford.

“I don’t fear for my position. I keep on working,” he added. “But I won’t spend big money on someone to come in if they’re not right.”

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Inter 1-1 Cagliari: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Lautaro Martinez Scores and Sees Red in Stalemate

Inter fell to their third successive Serie A draw on Sunday, with Radja Nainggolan’s late goal consigning the Nerazzurri to a 1-1 stalemate while Lautaro Martinez saw red late on for the hosts.

?Nicolo Barella had the ball in the back of the net 13 minutes in, but the linesman correctly ruled out his effort for offside in a subdued opening. They did find the opener not long after though, as debutant Ashley Young made his mark in Italy just before the half-hour mark by bending a superb cross in for Martinez to direct a header home.


Failing to see the game off in a mediocre second half showing, Radja Nainggolan punished the hosts 12 minutes from time as his long-range effort took a wicket deflection of Alessandro Bastoni and wrong-footed Samir Handanovic in the ?Inter net.

The hosts were unable to find a late winner, but Inter’s problems were made worse as Martinez reacted strongly to a late yellow card, with his protests seeing him sent off via a second booking. It was a result that moved three points behind ?Juventus in Serie A, but the league leaders have the chance to extend their lead later on Sunday.


INTER

Key Talking Point

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Two consecutive draws hampered Inter’s charge towards the ?Serie A summit, and while they saw off Sunday’s opponents with ease in the Coppa Italia recently, their league struggles seemed to have an effect on their start to the match. It was a fairly lethargic opening, with no intensity in their play and some slack defending handing the visitors a couple of early sights of goal.

There was a rally after that first 15 minutes, as Antonio Conte’s side took a stranglehold of proceedings and looked comfortable from thereon in. However, looking in cruise control and on course to extend their lead after the break, another lackadaisical start gifted Cagliari possession in dangerous areas. Inter cannot afford to start games in second gear if they are to claim the Scudetto this season, as better opposition than I Rossoblu will capitalise on those failings more than by just a single goal.

It continued to be a laboured second half, and while there were chances for Inter, Conte’s displeasure on the sidelines could be heard across the city as he got stuck into his side for their inability to kill the game off. His fears became reality with 12 minutes to go, with a poor display after half-time making the equaliser worryingly unsurprising. Do Inter want to win Serie A based on their recent showings? It doesn’t seem like it.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Handanovic (7); Skriniar (N/A), De Vrij (7), Bastoni (6); Young (7*), Barella (7), Valero (6), Sensi (6), Biraghi (5); Lukaku (7), Martinez (7).

Substitutes: Godin (N/A), Sanchez (6), Dimarco (N/A).


Ashley Young

Ashley Young

No word of a lie, the best player on the pitch for Inter on Sunday was indeed their new signing, Ashley Young.

It wasn’t just that he assisted Martinez’s goal, but his all-round display was very impressive. Getting up and down the right flank with purpose, he looked solid covering as a wing-back as well as linking up in attack. 

Heavily criticised by Manchester United fans, the 34-year-old Englishman has already endeared himself to his new supporters with an energetic display and it looks like being a fruitful partnership moving forward.

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CAGLIARI

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Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cragno (6); Farago (6), Walukiewicz (8), Klavan (7); Nandez (7), Nainggolan (7), Oliva (6), Ionita (7), Pellegrini (6); Simeone (6), Pedro (6)

Substitutes: Castro (7), Mattiello (7), Cigarini (N/A)


Looking Ahead

Inter have a Coppa Italia quarter-final to contend with next up as they host Fiorentina on Wednesday; meanwhile Cagliari are at home to Parma in Serie A on Saturday.

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