Playing in Italy means you need to be at a very high tactical level.
Yet Gareth Southgate’s call-ups demonstrate how the English coach doesn’t have much interest at all in Italian football despite Serie A having revived several talents too hastily forgotten by the Premier League.
The most striking case is that of the repeated and almost punitive exclusions from the English national team of Serie A protagonists Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham.
Both were let go too hastily by Chelsea and they recently celebrated European milestones with their Italian clubs, AC Milan and Roma, who managed to get into the quarter-finals of the Champions League and Europa League respectively.
Both deserve greater consideration also for their contribution to the results of AC Milan and Roma in recent months.
Gareth Southgate left out in-form Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham from his squad
Fikayo Tomori has been in excellent form for AC Milan and will be sad to have been left out
The feeling in Italy is that Southgate considers Italian football a minor, second-level sport incapable of adequately training players.
An inexplicable prejudice also because Tomori helped eliminate Antonio Conte and Harry Kane’s Tottenham and proved that he plays for a club which has been shown its value thanks to constant work, day after day.
Southgate could be clearer with the players and invite them to return to the UK to avoid missing out on the England national team.
Yet both Tomori and Abraham have certainly improved as footballers and have understood the tactical aspects to improve on.
Italy has always been considered a breeding ground for top players, like Zinedine Zidane, built in Juventus and dominant in Real Madrid, but Southgate probably has different ideas and does not appreciate anything about Italian football.
Italian football should not be considered by Southgate as the most extreme periphery in which to confine players rejected by the Premier League.
The English coach should be more open to new solutions, it would be necessary to update the databases, travel more to observe the exponential growth of a league that has brought three teams such as Napoli, Inter and Milan back to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Tammy Abraham deserves greater consideration even if he has had a tougher season so far
At the moment it is very likely that Southgate has missed the opportunity to give a second chance to players that England could have bet on with greater satisfaction.
Tomori in Italy has found a perfect tactical and technical dimension to become a top player.
He is agrressive in physical interventions and has shown that he knows how to play very intelligently in the three-man defense used by Stefano Pioli.
The AC Milan coach has always bet on the physical strength of his leader that Chelsea decided to send away too quickly due to Thomas Tuchel’s bad technical reports.
Tomori was convinced he would be called up by Southgate and this disappointment will be a psychological blow to the defender – which Pioli will have to intensely work on.
So far this season he has made 23 appearances and scored one goal for AC Milan, and has never been left out of the starting XI due to a technical choice.
Tomori has impressed in the Champions League, alongside Pierre Kalulu, who was also excluded from the French team.
The defender deserves to be among the players present in the England team’s training camp.
There is a feeling in Italy that Southgate considers Italian football as a minor, second-level sport which is incapable of adequately training players
AC Milan fans though are rejoicing because they will have a rested and mentally fresh player for the last stretch of the Serie A season – despite the player becoming increasingly sad over yet another undeserved exclusion.
Abraham meanwhile has suffered from the exponential growth of Ivan Toney who has the advantage of scoring more than the Roma striker, and doing it in the Premier League.
The Brentford forward has scored 16 goals while Abraham scored just six playing two games more than Southgate’s preferred striker.
This year’s results are not outstanding for Abraham but again his departure from the England national team seems to have an environmental and not a technical origin.
Abraham will never be Harry Kane’s heir but he would have deserved more consideration also for the courage he had in choosing an adventure abroad.
Tomori helped AC Milan reach the quarter-finals with his fine performances in defence
Ivan Toney has the advantage over Abraham after scoring more goals so far this season
Unlike Tomori, Abraham knew he didn’t have many chances of being called up by the England national team but his presence in Southgate’s long-list would certainly have guaranteed a growth in self-esteem for a striker who is experiencing a year of insecurities and fears.
Roma is a wonderful city which has a team that hasn’t won the Scudetto in 23 years and which has changed ownership in recent years.
Abraham enjoyed an extraordinary first year and now he is also suffering terribly due to manager Jose Mourinho’s tactics.
Mourinho is Abraham’s coach and the choice not to summon Tammy seems to be an affront to the work done by the Special One, who has often improved young players.