As Gareth Southgate grumbled about the limited number of England players in the Premier League, Italy boss Roberto Mancini was calling up Mateo Retegui for the first time.
Retegui is 23 years old, born in Argentina and scoring goals for Club Atletico Tigre on loan from Boca Juniors, but nowhere near the thoughts of World Cup-winning boss Lionel Scaloni, who called up 33 players for friendlies against the Central American might of Panama and Curacao.
He qualifies to represent the Azzurri through an Italian grandmother and Mancini, always blessed with supreme vision and the ability to find the centre forward when he played, is now adopting a stance akin to Jack Charlton’s recruitment drive for fresh Irish talent.
It is not an entirely new problem for Italy. Long gone are the days when they produced a stream of quality strikers like Gianluca Vialli, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Christian Vieri and Roberto Baggio.
Or, for those with longer memories, players like Paulo Rossi, Roberto Bettega and Alessandro Altobelli. Or going back a generation further to Gigi Riva, one of the greats.
Italy have called up Boca Juniors’ young striker Mateo Retegui (pictured) for the first time
The 23-year-old has scored 37 goals in 46 games for Tigre since joining on loan in February
Azzurri boss Roberto Mancini has used the ‘Irish granny’ rule to bring Retegui into his squad
Mancini has relied upon Ciro Immobile but the Lazio striker is out injured as the European champions begin the defence of their title against England in Naples on Thursday.
Giacomo Raspadori is also absent and Gianluca Scamacca in the squad but not playing regularly at West Ham.
In Serie A, as in the Premier League where Southgate says there are as few as 28 per cent eligible for England, those spending money on talent from abroad focus on key positions through the spine of the team, and particularly at centre forward.
Scan the wealthiest Italian teams and you see strikers from Nigeria, Argentina, Bosnia, Serbia, France, Belgium, etc. Take away Harry Kane and Southgate faces similar issues, selecting from options at Brentford, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Roma. None of them in the Champions League.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that England are awash with full backs and wide attackers because that’s where opportunities arise, around the edges of the teams as full-backs and wing-backs or 20 minutes on the wing in the head-spinning era of five substitutions.
It is much more difficult to displace the…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Latest Football Transfers News and Rumours | Mail Online…