Locatelli embracing new role in Spalletti’s Italy: “Something broke between me and Mancini”

Manuel Locatelli is back in the Italy squad under Luciano Spalletti, and while he wishes ex-coach Roberto Mancini well, the midfielder says that "something broke" between himself and the current Saudi Arabia boss.

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While it would have disappointed some Italy Men’s National Team team players to see Roberto Mancini step down from his role as coach, particularly after leading many of them to 2020 European Championship glory, that was not the case for everyone. Despite being part of the team that defeated England at Wembley Stadium to be crowned European champions, Manuel Locatelli seems happy in the wake of his departure.

The Juventus midfielder has not worn the Azzurri shirt since 2022, but was quickly returned to the squad once former Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti took the reins. Spalletti‘s immediate challenge is to ensure that Italy qualify for the Euro 2024, which will be held in Germany in just under 12 months’ time.

Manuel Locatelli in action for Juventus. (@juventusfcen)

Manuel Locatelli and Roberto Mancini’s problems

Having not pulled on the Italy shirt since a UEFA Nations League fixture against England in June 2022, the 25-year-old shared his frustrations to the media when meeting up with the rest of the squad at Coverciano for the September 2023 fixtures against North Macedonia and Ukraine.

The Bianconeri midfielder admitted to the assembled press (via La Gazzetta dello Sport) that “it’s been a difficult year for me with the national team, so I’m very happy to be here.”

“When you are not called up, I believe that, as the player, you have to be the first person responsible for wondering why,” Locatelli added. “And that’s what I did.

“I then spoke with Mancini, but we had different ideas, so something [in the relationship] broke, but that’s how it goes.”

Roberto Mancini as Italy coach. (@Azzurri)

Locatelli doesn’t appear to hold any grudges against his former coach. With the ex-Sassuolo man insisting that “Mancini must be thanked, because by winning the European Championship we made history.

“Then things changed,” Locatelli explained, “and that’s it. He must be celebrated, but there is a new future ahead of us now.”

Locatelli embracing changes Spalletti will bring to the Azzurri

Luciano Spalletti takes training with the Italy Men’s National Team. (@Azzurri_en)

After a short-lived break from football after winning the Serie A title with Napoli, Spalletti has already given the Azzurri plenty of inspiration, as Locatelli claimed that “his first speech moved us, with particular focus on important details, such as the attachment to the shirt.”

“Wearing this shirt is a joy, as well as a responsibility,” added Locatelli. “Now it is necessary to get to know each other better, but there is a lot of energy, we are all very determined.”

“There are differences in Spalletti and Mancini‘s games,” noted the Bianconeri midfielder. “You can already see Spalletti‘s impact and he has shown us a lot of videos. Something will change. I don’t know yet what Spalletti will ask from me, but at Juventus I’m changing my way of playing: I’m specialising in creating the play in front of the defence.”

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