Soccer-Locatelli relishing childhood Italy dream before contemplating his future

·2-min read
World Cup Qualifiers Europe - Group C - Bulgaria v Italy

ROME (Reuters) - Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli says he is focused on fulfilling his childhood dream of representing Italy at a major tournament, but admits he will have big decisions to make on his future after European Championship.

The 23-year-old has been linked with a move to Juventus by the Italian media recently after another impressive campaign with his club, which earned the former Milan playmaker a call-up to Roberto Mancini’s Italy squad for the Euros.

Locatelli is expected to start in the place of the injured Marco Verratti in the tournament's opening game on Friday, when Italy take on Turkey in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

"Representing Italy and the Italian people at the Euros is a beautiful responsibility that everyone wants to have. It is something to tell our children about,” Locatelli told a news conference.

"For me it is a dream that I have had since I was a child. I used to watch these competitions on a big screen with my friends.

"Turkey are an important team, they have great players like Hakan Calhanoglu, who I used to play with. It will not be easy, but we have to give everything."

Locatelli's name has featured in several newspapers in recent weeks amid speculation of Juventus interest, but he insisted that no decisions will be made on his future until the end of the tournament.

"It is just gossip. There is such an important competition to play and I am focused on that," he said.

"It is normal to have rumours about the transfer market, but I will not let myself be influenced by them."

"It would be a waste of time to think about that, even though I know that after the Euros will have some decisions to make."

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting