ROME (Reuters) - Uncapped Sassuolo striker Giacomo Raspadori was a surprise inclusion in Italy's Euro 2020 squad and coach Roberto Mancini hopes the youngster can emulate Azzurri great Paolo Rossi at the tournament.
The 21-year-old’s call-up was the biggest talking point when Mancini’s final 26-man squad was announced on Tuesday, as he is yet to feature for the senior national side.
Raspadori’s call-up earned comparisons with that of Rossi, who scored three goals in his debut World Cup as a 21-year-old in 1978 before winning the Golden Boot four years later when Italy became world champions.
“He could be the future of the national team,” Mancini said at a news conference.
“He has extraordinary qualities, that was the only motivation behind calling him up. I hope he can come in and be like Paolo Rossi, but I did not bring him along just for this.”
Italy face the Czech Republic in their final warm-up game in Raspadori’s home city of Bologna on Friday, when the striker could make his senior bow.
“We are evaluating his physical condition. I know it would be nice for him to make his debut in Bologna but I am thinking about his condition,” Mancini said.
“He was called up for what he did in the league and for his enormous technical quality, which can only improve.”
Euro 2020 kicks off in Rome on June 11, when Italy face Turkey in the opening game, but Mancini is still missing a key player as Paris St Germain midfielder Marco Verratti battles with injury.
“Everyone is available apart from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Verratti, maybe we will let Jorginho rest,” Mancini said.
“Sensi has recovered, the only doubt is Verratti and we will see how he is in a week.”
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Pritha Sarkar)