Roberto Mancini calls up Argentine-born forward amid lack of street football in Italy

Roberto Mancini calls up Argentine-born forward amid lack of street football in Italy

Italy manager Roberto Mancini has complained about the lack of street football in his home country, and has in turn handed a call-up to Argentine-born Mateo Retegui.

The boss will potentially hand an international debut to the 23-year-old striker, who was born in San Fernando in Argentina but has an Italian grandmother.

The forward represented the country of his birth at youth level, but could feature for Italy later this month in their Euro 2024 qualifiers against England and Malta. Mancini’s side host the Three Lions at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Thursday, before a trip to Malta three days later.

Argentine-born striker earns Mancini praise

Mancini was surprised to hear that Retegui had accepted his call, but the boss is certainly grateful amid his lack of attacking options. The striker, who currently represents Tigre, on loan from Boca Juniors, jumped at the chance to line out for Italy.

His call up represents a change in stance from the man in the dugout, with Mancini previously noting that he would only work with players born in Italy.

“We’ve been following him for some time, he has quality and he’s a young boy,” said Mancini, as quoted by LiveScore. “We didn’t think he’d say yes, we hesitated a bit and instead he immediately said yes. The hope is that it can be important, he’s a bright and young boy.”

Italy boss annoyed by lack of street football

Mancini expressed his disappointment about the lack of exciting players that have honed their skills on the streets of Italy in recent times, with the manager highlighting South American nations Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay as countries that still have such players to call upon.

Mancini has a huge task ahead, with plenty of pressure on the boss after Italy missed out on a place in back-to-back World Cup finals after failing to land a spot in Qatar.

The country had failed to qualify for the biggest tournament in world football only once before in 1958, with the upcoming Euro 2024 campaign offering a chance for redemption.

But current boss Mancini may not be feeling so confident given his lack of options in the final third, which he believes may hinge on one specific aspect.

“In Italy nobody plays on the street anymore,” added Mancini. “We used to play three-four hours on the street and then we went to train, today this doesn’t happen anymore.

“It’s no coincidence that players are still born in those countries, such as Uruguay, Argentina or Brazil, where they still play a lot on the street.

Mancini added: “I have no idea why so few forwards come out, we are really very limited in the offensive department.”


Mancini calls up Premier League names

A handful of Premier League players could line up against their league rivals later this month, with Arsenal’s Jorginho, Leeds’s Willy Gnonto and West Ham’s Gianluca Scamacca all included in the latest Italy squad.

Also making the cut are the likes of star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, veteran midfielder Marco Verratti and attacking talent Federico Chiesa.

However, not all players will make it onto the pitch it seems, with Mancini calling up a huge 30-man squad for the matches against England and Malta.

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