Italy, Raspadori: ‘I am not young or underestimated’

Italy, Raspadori: ‘I am not young or underestimated’
Italy, Raspadori: ‘I am not young or underestimated’

Italy striker Giacomo Raspadori says he’s ‘no longer young’ but doesn’t feel underestimated as he’s always been part of the national team.

The Napoli centre forward held a press conference on Tuesday from the Italy training base in Iserlohn, two days before a EURO 2024 match against Spain.

Raspadori struggled with playing time at Napoli in the 2023-24 campaign but remains the player with the most Azzurri appearances under Spalletti with ten, as many as Federico Dimarco and Davide Frattesi.

“I am doing my best, as I’ve always done and as everyone else is doing,” he said. “Our task is to make the coach’s decisions challenging, even if he’s on our side, and try to get a chance.

“We are focusing on building a solid group and we are having a good time together .”

The 24-year-old was asked if Italy necessarily needed a classic centre-forward to break down the opponents’ defence.

“I don’t think it’s fundamental, even if sometimes it can be an added value when you find opponents who defend with a low block. However, having a striker with different characteristics is still fine with an organised playing style.

“I am very ambitious, so I want to get as much playing time as possible,” he continued.

“I am 24, and I can no longer consider myself a young player.”

Raspadori sees this as a cultural problem as well.

“In Italy, a 24-year-old player is considered young. Abroad, somebody of the same age has already played over 150 competitive games. I don’t think I am young and I hope this mentality will change. Young players should be given the chance to make mistakes. I was lucky to play at Sassuolo under De Zerbi, who gave me many chances, including opportunities to make mistakes. This has helped me.”

Raspadori was part of the Italy squad that won the Euros three years ago. How has he changed since?

“I am more mature in footballing terms and more aware of my qualities,” he replied.

“Being part of that [EURO 2020] team was partially unexpected even if I don’t take for granted being here now.

“Spalletti is always the same, he motivates us at any moment,” continued the striker.

“Obviously, he has less time, but he tries to leave his mark whenever he can. The target is to have a clear identity to bring to the pitch.

Raspadori hasn’t spoken to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia recently and didn’t comment on his transfer situation today. Kvara will make his EURO 2024 debut with Georgia in a few hours against Vincenzo Montella’s Turkey.

“I wish the best to Kvara. He’s talented and a great guy, so best of luck to him. I am sure he’ll be able to show his worth.”

Raspadori was asked if he felt underestimated and his reply was resolute.

“Not at all. I am part of a strong group of footballers. It’d be a lack of respect towards other players to consider me underestimated. Surely, I didn’t play consistently in the last season, but I don’t feel underestimated. Of course, I will never give up and try to look for an opportunity every day.

“I’ve always felt part of this team, except when I didn’t play due to an injury.”

Raspadori also replied to a couple of questions about Napoli and whether he had already spoken to new coach Antonio Conte.

“I’ve already talked to Conte,” he admitted.

“We’ve known each other, but now I am only focused on everyone’s dream [the Euros].

“My target is to be a protagonist and play consistently [at Napoli]. We still haven’t discussed the details or met in person, but it’s too early to talk about this and it’s not even the right place to do so.”