Monday, 20 August, 2018

Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon calls for OGC Nice striker Mario Balotelli's return

Gianluigi Buffon Gianluigi Buffon
Kristopher Love | 02 March, 2018, 09:54

Buffon has made himself available for March's global friendlies against Argentina and England citing that Italy needed him.

'We'll face two great national teams, we'll see what we can do, ' Di Biagio said at his press conference on Monday.

Buffon, who confirmed he will be in Di Biagio's squad, hopes the Nice striker is also included. "But I am not lacking ambition and I do want to put the FIGC's decision-makers into an awkward position".

The striker has not played an worldwide match since the 2014 World Cup but has turned his career around somewhat in Nice, scoring 13 goals in 19 Ligue 1 appearances this term.

"I'm following him constantly and we'll make an evaluation when the call-ups are made", Di Biagio said. Italy lost to Sweden in the World Cup qualifying playoffs, ending the goalkeeper's bid to become the first player to reach six World Cups.

The two "Gigi", Buffon and Di Biagio, of course, find themselves in diametrically opposed situations.

Italy great Gianluigi Buffon is coming out of retirement after making himself available for March's global friendlies against Argentina and England.

"The thing I can tell you is that I'm sure and I'm very happy with what will be my choice, together with the club, but we'll announce it when the time comes".

"Call me what you want, but my first mission is to bring back the enthusiasm and joy to this team, which we all love. The players who have experience at the moment could be useful against Argentina and England". After all in five years as U21 coach, I have called up 150 different players.

"I do this for loyalty and responsibility, without thinking about what will be my future". That failure, largely prompted by Italy's World Cup exit, leaves a vacuum in which the highly capable Di Biagio might just flourish.

Andrea Barzagli, a 36-year-old defender, has definitively retired from the squad, Di Biagio said.