With Brazilian striker Amauri close to becoming an Italian citizen, it looks like Bayern Munich’s Luca Toni will find it quite hard to represent Italy in South Africa. Azzurri Boss Marcello Lippi has hinted on more than one occasion that Amauri will be very useful for the national team.
The raging debate is whether more foreign born players ought to be called up to the national team and a case can be made that a couple quality players can improve on the Azzurri’s shortcomings in certain departments of the field. The measuring stick should be whether the player can improve on the existing talent pool at the disposal of Italy’s Lippi. At this stage Amauri is in better overall condition than both Toni and Juve’s powerful striker Iaquinta while Fiorentina’s Alberto Gilardino apparently finds it difficult to rattle the net with the Azzurri. Amauri’s inclusion can be tolerated if he succeeds as the target man during the World Cup. This evokes memories of club teammate Mauro Camoranesi, an Oriundi, whose inclusion in La Nazionale’s WC 2006 squad stirred debate since he does not sing the Italian national anthem and has claimed he remains Argentine deep inside though he plays his heart out for the Azzurri.
Playing for the Italian national team is a privilege and not everyone is entitled to the Azzurri shirt. The triumph in World Cup 2006 reaffirmed Italy’s standing among the world’s best, with great football tradition. Only Brazilian internationals have more stars stitched to their shirt. The Azzurri’s door cannot be open to just any player. The likes of Roma’s Rodrigo Taddei and Lazio’s Cristian Ledesma have expressed willingness to represent Italy, yet those players are unlikely to be called upon by Coach Lippi. It must be said that the former Juve Trainer is quite right in declaring that he will not be giving players such as Taddei and Ledesma a chance to play for Italy.
La Nazionale does not need to count on ‘decent’ players who will not add any extra dimension to the team’s playing schemes and obviously Marcello Lippi recognizes that. Both Ledesma and Taddei play in midfield. The areas the two players cover are not really in need of reinforcement. The likes of Roma’s Daniele De Rossi, Milan’s Andrea Pirlo, Juve’s Claudio Marchisio and Udinese’s Gaetano D’Agostino are all capable midfielders. Both De Rossi and Pirlo are established stars with their respective clubs and have played a part of Italy’s success in 2006.
At this point, it would be meaningless to call up the likes of Taddei. The Azzurri might be just lacking a killer punch upfront with players like Gilardino finding it difficult to score, yet the other positions are covered by quality players such as the great Gianluigi Buffon in goal, the solid Giorgio Chiellini in defense along with promising young defenders Domenico Criscito and Davide Santon.
Lippi may call up Amauri but it will be highly unlikely that others will join the Italian setup. The tifosi are more concerned about whether Sampdoria’s Antonio Cassano will be part of the squad headed to South Africa. Since the 1990s, France has served as a leading example of accommodating stars born outside France or who are of foreign ancestry such as retired hero Zinedine Zidane. As fans of the beautiful game, what do you think about using foreign-born players or having footballers with ancestors from a country chosen to represent it?