Vito Doria Date: 23rd March 2019 at 6:59pm
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Fabio Quagliarella deserves to be in the Italy squad based on his form at Sampdoria and he should not be judged solely on his age.

The Italian national team will play Finland in Udinese on March 23 then Lichtenstein in Parma three days later for their Euro 2020 qualifiers and Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini has selected the Blucerchiati striker.

“He continues to score, so I couldn’t not call him up. He is old in age, undoubtedly, but I believe he can give us a hand,” Mancini said on Italian television program Domenica Sportiva on Sunday.

Usually, players of Quagliarella’s age would be at the twilight of their careers but the Doriani captain has been in the best form of his career despite turning 36 years old at the end of January.

So far in the 2018/19 Serie A season, he has scored a career-high 21 goals as well as seven assists in 27 matches. No longer does he have to experience the stalker ordeal like he did at Napoli in the late 2000s and he has not had to deal with the injury issues that plagued him at Juventus early in this decade.

Although Sampdoria have a well-drilled system under Coach Marco Giampaolo, Quagliarella is the player that makes the difference. He is remarkably quick and agile for someone his age, knows how to run into the right positions, makes the right passes, and he can score goals out of nothing in addition to scoring textbook strikes.

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Italy have had to overhaul the squad and bring in a new generation of players. Despite playing a possession-based style of football under Mancini, there has been very little reward for their attacking play with the Azzurri scoring just three goals in their last four matches.

There has been a focus on youth and there are young Italian strikers with potential but none of them are scoring prolifically. Patrick Cutrone has been confined to the bench at AC Milan after the acquisition of Krzysztof Piatek from Genoa in January, Andrea Pinamonti has scored four times in 19 games for Frosinone, and Andrea Favilli has only played five times for Genoa due to injuries.

The current Azzurri squad is a young one and it would be devoid of experience if it was not for defenders like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Quagliarella would provide experience up front despite a long absence from international football and he would provide extra unpredictability based on some of his outrageous strikes for the Doriani.

Juventus starlet Moise Kean was selected by Mancini for the previous international break and Massimiliano Allegri is starting to utilise him more at the Bianconeri. A player like the 19-year-old could take advice from the evergreen Quagliarella and also add some extra tricks to his game.

There were other strikers that could have been considered by Mancini such as Olympique Marseille striker Mario Balotelli and Torino centre-forward Andrea Belotti.

Perhaps Balo will be considered in the future and he has done well since leaving Nice in January, scoring five goals in seven Ligue 1 matches. Belotti, on the other hand, scored three times in two games but they were against Chievo and Frosinone so he might need to prove himself against stronger opposition or develop a lengthier run of form to entice the Azzurri coach.

Even if one of those two were included, it should not have been for Quagliarella. Kevin Lasagna’s selection is bizarre considering that he has scored just five times in 25 Serie A games for Udinese so far in 2018/19. The Sampdoria striker has scored more than four times that amount and he is nine years older.

It has been nearly nine years since the Doriani forward has played for Italy but the Azzurri are short on prolific strikers. He might not be in such phenomenal form leading up to Euro 2020 but he is the leading goalscorer in Serie A at the moment so statistically the best option for the Italians.

This was not a token selection. Quagliarella’s form proves that his presence in the Italy squad is merited.