Argentina-born Italy striker Mateo Retegui reminds Roberto Mancini of the Albiceleste’s Serie A great Gabriel Batistuta.
Retegui has been handed a first Italy call-up for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers, starting at home to England on Thursday.
The Tigre striker, who was born and raised in Argentina, where he has also spent his entire club career, qualifies for the Azzurri through his grandfather.
Strikers travelling between Argentina and Italy is not a new phenomenon, but Retegui is heading for the Italy camp, rather than a Serie A club.
“Coming like this from Argentina to Italy, not in a club team, is not so simple,” coach Mancini said on the eve of the England game.
“It takes some time, but the guy is polite and smart. He is a good striker, young, we have great confidence and we have to give him some time.”
— Italy (@Azzurri_En) March 22, 2023
Retegui has scored 28 goals in 48 Argentine Primera Division games for Tigre.
While Mancini noted comparisons with former Napoli striker German Denis, he preferred to draw parallels with the great Batistuta.
Batistuta joined Fiorentina from Boca Juniors in 1991 and was a great success both with the Viola and with Roma.
“[Retegui] is a classic striker, I see that many compare him to Denis,” Mancini said. “I remember when Batistuta arrived in Italy, he reminds me of him.
“Clearly, he is a young guy and needs time and to grow. But I don’t think it will take long to settle in.”
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