The call-ups of Torino's Ciro Immobile and Parma's Gabriel Paletta have raised eyebrows in the Italian national team for their friendly against Spain on Wednesday for completely different reasons.
The addition of a player like Torino's star striker Immobile was a long time coming. The native of Torre Anunziata is hailed as one of the young stars of Serie A and his development was slowly watched by national team coach Cesare Prandelli. His performances with Torino in Serie A and Serie B have kept him under the national team coach's eye. This season was when he took the next step towards being among the elite in the league, scoring 13 goals so far; one behind league leaders Giuseppe Rossi of Fiorentina and Juventus' Carlos Tevez.
The one call-up that did catch people off guard was that of Argentine-born Gabriel Paletta of Parma. The former Boca Juniors and Banfield defender is an immovable fixture in the Gialloblu backline during this campaign, where they find themselves challenging for European spots. Paletta's defense has been so solid this season that there are rumors that Spurs have him under their radar.
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The arrival of Paletta is a clear message to national team regulars such as Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli that Prandelli is beginning to run out of patience with their lack of form. His arrival is also an indication that defenders such as Angelo Ogbonna, Andrea Ranocchia and Davide Astori have not stepped up to the challenge either.
After being completely ignored by Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella, Paletta now becomes the fourth oriundi (foreign-born Italian player) under Cesare Prandelli after Pablo Osvaldo, Thiago Motta, and Giuseppe Rossi (Rossi is still out of action due to a knee injury). He is also the 21st Argentine in Nazionale history to don the Azzurri.
Despite criticism from Juventus coach Antonio Conte, Prandelli decided on calling up Giorgio Chiellini despite him not being fully fit. "He (Chiellini) was on the bench against Milan. I was well within my right to call him up," said Prandelli on Monday. Even with all the criticism that there is on Prandelli, there is also talk that he would like to begin negotiations on a contract extension with the FIGC (Italian Football Federation).
Goalkeepers; Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris-Saint Germain-FRA);
Defenders: : Ignazio Abate (Milan), Davide Astori (Cagliari), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Zenit San Petersburg-RUS), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Cristian Maggio (Napoli), Gabriel Paletta (Parma)
Midfielders: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland-ENG), Stefano Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris-Saint Germain-FRA), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain);
Forwards: Alessio Cerci (Torino), Mattia Destro (Roma), Alberto Gilardino (Genoa), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Insigne (Napoli), Pablo Osvaldo (Juventus).