Mancini claims Italy have players at Bellingham's level and urges coaches to play them

By Sports Desk January 18, 2023

Roberto Mancini believes Italy have four or five young players on the same level as England's Jude Bellingham, but the Azzurri boss says coaches must be brave enough to give them minutes.

Having failed to qualify for last year's World Cup, Italy will get their bid to defend the European Championship trophy they won in 2021 under way with a qualifier against England in March.

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 does not believe Italy lack talented young players. The Azzurri's problem, he claims, 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."

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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