Juventus midfielder Manuel Locatelli admits that he and former Italy coach Roberto Mancini had ‘different views’ about the way they played football. The 25-year-old gave a press conference ahead of the Azzurri’s match against EURO 2024 qualifiers this weekend and talked about his return to the squad, his first call up since June 2022 when he featured in a 0-0 draw against England:
What impression did Spalletti make on you?
“Coming back here is always an honour, a joy. We all have this responsibility: there’s a new coach and we all want to get to know him and he has to get to know us too. There’s energy and enthusiasm, we’re all very charged up.”
In what spirit are you returning to the national team?
“It’s great to be in the walls of Coverciano, the European Championship is a dream we realised but it’s in the past now. I’m happy to be back here after a year, I’m very happy.”
What words is Spalletti using to motivate you?
“The coach spoke of attachment to the jersey, his speech moved us”.
How do you feel about Mancini?
“He should be thanked for the European Championship, then things went like this and now enough is enough…. There’s the future to face’.
Are you cast to be a playmaker with Spalletti?
“There has been a change in the way I play, I’m specialising here and I’m happy about that. A lot of things have changed, but I’m very happy about that’.
How did you explain this year’s exclusions?
“When there is a non-call-up the first fault is mine, the first test. Then I spoke with Mancini, he had some ideas and I had others. Something had broken, but it’s fine like that’.
How does Italy change with Spalletti?
“There is already an idea, an imprint of what the coach wants to do. He’s showing us many things, some things will change. We have to follow what he will tell us and we will do it’.
How would you comment about your return?
“I have learnt many things, you must never take anything for granted. Everything is won with work, with determination. In these years I have had the opportunity to mature and it all starts from there, from desire and determination. Last year at Juventus we experienced a very complicated year, now at Juve we are experiencing a better situation”.
What match do you expect on Saturday?
“It will be a difficult match, in the international field they are always difficult matches. They are very good on second balls, we have to be careful on many things. The most important thing is the victory but equally important is the will to play.”
How positive can the changeover from Mancini to Spalletti prove to be in restoring momentum to a national team that had lost enthusiasm?
“We have to live it this way, we have to see the changes in a positive way. A great coach has arrived, there must be enthusiasm in wearing this jersey that can never be a burden. We must never lose this desire to win, we must live the change in a positive way.
What will the tactical set-up be?
“Its set-up is a 4-3-3. then when you go pressing or whatever. That can be seen from game to game.”
What has changed for you since you were in the Under-19s?
“First of all I became a parent and that’s the best thing in life, then I have a fantastic wife. I am very happy to have this family.