Mario Balotelli has been overlooked for Roberto Mancini’s latest Italy squad as the head coach instead turns to a revitalised veteran to lead his strike force.
Ahead of Euro 2020 qualifying matches against Finland and Liechtenstein, Mancini has recalled 36-year-old Sampdoria striker Fabio Quagliarella, who has scored 20 Serie A goals this season.
Former Manchester City and Liverpool forward Balotelli has contributed five goals in seven appearances for Marseille since leaving Nice in January but the 28-year-old is not in the 29-man selection named on Friday afternoon.
Also returning to contention for national duty are Roma’s Stephan El Shaarawy, Leonardo Spinazzola of Juventus and Armando Izzo of Torino.
Mancini will also take the opportunity to look at younger players including Juve forward Moise Kean, teenage Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo and defender Giuseppe Mancini of Atalanta, who is not related to the Italy boss.
Chelsea’s Jorginho represents the English Premier League in the squad while Paris St Germain playmaker Marco Verratti, Cristiano Piccini of Valencia and Freiburg midfielder Vincenzo Grifo are other Italians who play in foreign leagues.
The Azzurri host Finland in Udine on Saturday, March 23 before welcoming Liechtenstein to Parma three days later.
Italy squad: Cragno (Cagliari), Donnarumma (AC Milan), Perin (Juventus), Sirigu (Torino); Biraghi (Fiorentina), Bonucci (Juventus), Chiellini (Juventus), Florenzi (Roma), Izzo (Torino), Mancini (Atalanta), Piccini (Valencia), Romagnoli (AC Milan), Spinazzola (Juventus); Barella (Cagliari), Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Sensi (Sassuolo), Verratti (Paris St Germain), Zainolo (Roma); Bernardeschi (Juventus), Chiesa (Fiorentina), El Shaarawy (Roma), Grifo (Freiburg), Immobile (Lazio), Kean (Juventus), Lasagna (Udinese), Pavoletti (Cagliari), Politano (Inter Milan), Quagliarella (Sampdoria).
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