x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Quagliarella's flexibility gets him the nod in Italy squad

Versatility was the key factor for Marcello Lippi, the Italy coach, in deciding on his final 23-man World Cup squad.

Versatility was the key factor for Marcello Lippi, the Italy coach, in deciding on his final 23-man World Cup squad, and that is why he selected Fabio Quagliarella, the Napoli forward, over Giuseppe Rossi and Marco Borriello. "That was the key criteria," Lippi said yesterday at Italy's training camp in the Italian Alps. "The choices were all made based on adaptability to different positions on the field. All the exclusions were tough to make and Giuseppe Rossi was especially difficult because he's been with us the longest."

Lippi also cut Salvatore Sirigu, the fourth goalkeeper, the defender Mattia Cassani and Andrea Cossu, the midfielder, two hours before Fifa's midnight deadline on Tuesday. Rossi was born in the United States to Italian parents and has dual citizenship but has set his heart on playing for Italy. He has appeared 14 times for the Azzurri, scoring three goals, but struggled in the second half of last season with Villarreal, his Spanish club.

Quagliarella can play virtually any position in attack and is also a scoring threat from outside the box, as evidenced by several spectacular goals this season. Lippi retained nine players from the team that won the title four years ago in Germany, including the Al Ahli-bound Fabio Cannavaro. "Everyone was saying, and I still hear it today, that I'm too attached to the champions. But I've changed 50 per cent of the squad," Lippi said. "We've got a lot of young players and they're really all experts. They're the future of the national team, but they've also got to be the present." * AP