Ventura wants to freshen up Italy squad

AFP

New Italy coach Giampiero Ventura said on Tuesday that he wanted to build on the foundations laid by his predecessor Antonio Conte by adding more youth to the squad.

An ageing Italy outfit impressed in Euro 2016, where they chalked up excellent wins over Belgium and Spain, only to be beaten in the quarter-finals by Germany after a marathon penalty shoot-out.

Eight of the players who started the match against Germany last month are now aged 29 or over, with 38-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon indicating he is likely to retire after the 2018 World Cup.

"In two years we would like to have a group of players aged 21 to 23," former Torino coach Ventura said ahead of Italy's friendly against France in Bari on September 1.

"We have a lot of young talent. They need to play and develop in their clubs. They also need to be encouraged. As soon as a youngster plays badly here he's massacred."

Conte left to take charge of English Premier League side Chelsea after the Euros, and the 68-year-old Ventura will lead the national team for the first time next week.

"We will continue the work that Conte started," added Ventura.

"I'm sure we can carry on playing good football. We are not starting from scratch like Conte had to do when he took over.

"I can really focus 80 percent on the details and the other 20 percent is all I need to look at the general organisation of the team. That's what gives me hope for the future.

"I need time but that's the only thing that I'm lacking. We only have a couple of days to prepare each match, but I have a solid group of players who are all available to me."


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