Claudio Ranieri hopes Sassuolo can become the “Italian Leicester” by continuing their impressive progress this season.
Ranieri led 5,000-1 outsiders Leicester City to a sensational Premier League title triumph last time around but the exploits of minnows back in his homeland also caught his eye.
Sassuolo, who played in the Serie A for the first time in 2013, stormed to a sixth-place last term having secured victories over the likes of Napoli, Lazio, AC Milan, Inter and champions Juventus.
“I hope Sassuolo goes beyond the preliminaries of the Europa League,” Ranieri said.
“Sassuolo could become the Italian Leicester. It makes me think of Udinese a few years ago, with a basic philosophical difference.
“In Udine they relied on young foreigners, while in Sassuolo the are following the Italian way and this path may give a jolt to the entire national movement.”
Ranieri was linked with succeeding Chelsea-bound Antonio Conte as Italy boss ahead of the latter’s swansong at Euro 2016, with the Italian Football Federation eventually plumping for the similarly experienced Giampiero Ventura.
“The worst thing to do would be to compare [Ventura] to Conte,” Ranieri said, after the outgoing coach earned plenty of plaudits as Italy defeated Belgium and defending champions Spain in France before bowing out on penalties against Germany in the quarter-finals.
“Each coach has his own history and his moment. Ventura is a master of football, but he alone cannot work miracles. The system, in its complexity, must help him.
“Conte has really overachieved. He should be thanked; he gave a soul to the Azzurri.”