Four AC Milan players join Mancini’s new Azzuri era
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Roberto Mancini has named his first competitive squad list for the upcoming UEFA Nations League games, including four AC Milan players in a new-look Azzurri side that will take on Poland and Portugal during the international break, all of whom will be keen to cement their places in the plans of the national team coach.
AC Milan are just two games into the 2018-19 season, having played one less than most of their rivals in Serie A. This was due to the understandable postponement of the home match against Genoa in the wake of the tragic Ponte Morandi collapse in August, which also led to the postponement of the game between Sampdoria and Fiorentina, also during the same round of league fixtures.
Nevertheless, after losing their opening game of the season in a dramatic encounter away at Napoli, there was more drama for the Rossoneri at the weekend with Patrick Cutrone scoring a stoppage-time winner against Roma, securing all three points from what had been a fiercely contested game at the San Siro. Thanks to that victory, AC Milan are now priced at 16/1 for the title in Serie A betting markets as an outside option to win the 2018-19 Scudetto title.
There’s no opportunity for 20-year-old Cutrone to add to the first international cap he gained in March 2018, which came when Luigi Di Biagio was interim manager of the Italian national team. However, Di Biagio has called on Cutrone to represent the Under-21 side that will face Slovakia and Albania, both of which are important qualifiers for the European U21 Championship.
The four AC Milan players who have been added to the senior Azzurri squad announced by Mancini, ahead of the UEFA Nations League Group 3 matches, are goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, defenders Mattia Caldara and Alessio Romagnoli, plus midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura. Only reigning Serie A champions Juventus have contributed more players, with five members of their team featuring in the 30-man squad.
As the most experienced amongst the AC Milan contingent called to represent their country, 29-year-old Bonaventura has 11 caps to his name, whilst the rest have less than 10 caps. 23-year-old Romagnoli has made 6 appearances for the Azzurri side since 2016, along with 19-year-old Donnarumma with seven outings, who is widely expected to regularly claim the number one spot vacated by Gianluigi Buffon following his international retirement.
Meanwhile, talented centre-back Caldera is expected to continue making international strides, having been awarded his Italy debut under Mancini against France in June 2018. The 24-year-old was highly impressive during his loan spell from Juventus with Atalanta last season in Serie A, which ultimately prompted AC Milan to make their €35 million move for the player during the summer transfer window.
One of the continuing surprises amongst the changes to the Italy squad in the dawning Mancini era, is another call-up handed to former AC Milan bad boy, Mario Balotelli, who was exceptional during his first spell at the club after signing from Manchester City. However, after moving to Liverpool and failing to impress there during his first season, he likewise struggled after returning to San Siro on loan just a season later. That said, even though he’s ruffled more than a few feathers, Balotelli has been a vital player for French side Nice in Ligue 1.
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