Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has raised concerns about the number of foreign players plying their trade in Serie A.
While the likes of Emanuele Giaccherini, Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Daniel Pablo Osvaldo are all picking up experience in foreign leagues, Prandelli fears the influx of foreign names is blocking the progress of younger Italian players, which he believes could have long-term ramifications on the national team.
Italy Under-21 coach Gigi Di Biagio has largely had to choose from Serie B and Lega Pro players for his latest squad selection and this, according to Prandelli, is another indication that the country’s promising players are not being given the chance to shine on the highest domestic stage.
"It was thought that the presence of many foreigners would stimulate our young lads, but we’ve seen that things have not gone that way," Prandelli said at a press conference. "We need to reflect on this.
"We need to study and plan. If I were a club president, I would think about working with youngsters and bringing them through into the first team, rounding things off with foreign players, but only good foreign players.
"We must not abandon our youth, and we’re not going to abandon them, but we’ve also got to see the reality. They are struggling and we need to work out why. They’re not getting regular games in the league and they are not finding any continuity."
Verratti is a case in point. He emerged in the Pescara side promoted to Serie A two years ago but, before he even had the chance to appear in Serie A, he moved to PSG.
Lorenzo Insigne was also in that same Pescara side, but he has not entirely made the breakthrough with Napoli, struggling to find room with Edinson Cavani last season while Gonzalo Higuain is likely to reduce his chances this term.
However, Prandelli also says the young players need to mature quickly and accept the challenge of proving to their clubs that they do not need to look abroad for new players.
"To become a great player, you’ve got to face up to the competition," Prandelli said. "You can’t have fear. Clubs have so many games to play that the players need to have the strength to cope with all the competitions, which does everybody good."