What do the following have in common: keeper
Well, apart from being under-20 national-teamers, these multinational young talents will all struggle to hold down a permanent Serie A starting place this season.
The examples of players such as striker
Italy's Under-21 coach,
As we prepare for the curtain to lift on another Serie A season -- it starts on Aug. 22 and ends on May 16, 2010 -- it is tempting to conclude that the Italian soccer world is still facing many familiar problems, including not just lack of time and space for youngsters, but also issues such as financial insolvency and potential fan violence. As we go into a season that will end just before the reigning world champions defend their title in South Africa, Italian soccer sometimes seems ever more fossilized.
It seems emblematic that two of the greatest talents in Italian football,
While Kaká and Ibrahimovic head off, Italian soccer risks becoming stuck in a time warp, renewing the contracts of golden oldies like
Nor do the results of last season paint a rosy picture. It was bad enough that not a single Italian club made the quarterfinals of the Champions League, but in some ways it was even more disappointing that Casiraghi's useful Under-21 side went out to Germany at the semifinal stages of the European Championship in Sweden in June. After all, Italian teams have won five of the last 10 Under-21 titles.
Arguably worst of all, however, was Italy's disappointing Confederations Cup showing in South Africa, where
Certainly, in the immediate aftermath of an embarrassingly poor showing, Lippi seemed to suggest that he would ring the changes by way of preparation for next year's World Cup. Conceding that Italy's showing in the Confederations Cup represented just about the "lowest moment" in his three years as national-team coach, he said: "We've taken a right [punch] on the ears and now we're on the plane home. But the rebuilding of the national team is ongoing. I never said that it was finished or that we would go to the World Cup finals with these players. We'll start the changes shortly, beginning with those Under-21 players who have already proved themselves."
In the all-important third game against Brazil, Italy started with eight players who were featured in the Germany '06 World Cup-winning squad. Yet
Perhaps, after all, youth will get a chance in the end. Will there be space this winter in the national team for players such as Santon and Balotelli? Will other younger players such as Sampdoria striker
Stand by for experiments in September World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Bulgaria.