Juventus centre-back Giorgio Chiellini lamented the standard of defenders in Italy and declared that a whole generation was skipped before any top class figures re-emerged.
The Azzurri captain has long been a stalwart of the national team but admitted that the attacking and popular style of Manchester City and former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola had had a negative effect on the production of Italian defensive talent since.
“We must learn from Guardiola and [Antonio] Conte but stay true to our base, which is characterised by strong defending,” Chiellini told Bianconeri teammate Wojciech Szczesny in an interview for the goalkeeper’s Prosto w Szczene show.
“For five to 10 years in Italy we have not produced international level defenders. That is not normal.
“Before, you would see Italian defenders of the calibre of [Claudio] Gentile, [Gaetano] Scirea, [Giuseppe] Bergomi, [Franco] Baresi, [Paolo] Maldini, [Alessandro] Costacurta, [Fabio] Cannavaro, [Alessandro] Nesta, [Marco] Materazzi.
“Then you get to my generation, there is [Andrea] Barzagli and I, whilst [Leonardo] Bonucci is three years younger, and then 10 years of almost nothing,” the 34-year-old continued.
“There is [Alessio] Romagnoli, [Daniele] Rugani and [Mattia] Caldara, but they are only 22 or 23 years old.”
Chiellini has won 99 caps for the Italian national team, scoring eight goals.