Why Rafa Benitez Won’t Work Out At Everton

Everton have decided to bring in Rafa Benitez to replace Carlo Ancelotti as the club’s new manager (Source – BBC Sport).

Now a quick look at Rafa’s CV will show you why The Toffees hierarchy have hired the Spaniard. He has won league titles, a Champions League and has been successful in the Premier League.

Yet there’s one glaring part on that CV that will always prove to be a stumbling block.

Everton fans can’t and will never forget Rafa Benitez the Liverpool manager.

While Rafa was very successful at Anfield and that will sting Toffee supporters, it’s the way Benitez treated Everton with disdain during that time that will never be forgiven by a fair amount of the faithful at Goodison.

He once called them ‘a small club‘ (Via The Mirror)

Rafa’s announcement was met with plenty of negative comments from the club’s support:

Everton Football Club clearly knew that a backlash was coming. As soon as the announcement dropped they had a picture of him with club legend Duncan Ferguson.

Major shareholder Farhad Moshiri and Director of Football Marcel Brands followed it up with glowing references:

“He has one of the most impressive CVs in world football. He knows how to build winning football teams. Look at the job he did at Valencia, for example. At a time when Real Madrid and Barcelona were investing heavily in global superstars, against all odds he led Valencia to their first La Liga title in 31 years, and then added another La Liga title and a UEFA Cup for good measure. He has demonstrated at a number of clubs he can help them take the next step – and step up to the very highest level.”

Farhad Moshiri via Evertonfc.com

It is interesting that Farhad made the Valencia reference as a big reason for giving Rafa the job. That happened seventeen years ago!

He didn’t quite manage to do it at Napoli and Newcastle United, in terms of getting them to the next level. We shouldn’t forget that he also flopped at Chelsea and Inter Milan.

Even as a coach Benitez doesn’t seem to be a right fit.

As a manager he has a knack of rubbing players up the wrong way, the complete opposite from Ancelotti. That could prove to be disruptive at Goodison.

At Newcastle Utd he often decided to set his team up to play in a way that would avoid defeat rather than push for the win. That won’t wash with The Toffees, just ask Sam Allardyce!

There’s also huge pressure on him as his appointment could make or break the fans relationship with Moshiri.

People look at the Merseyside derby and play it down. Growing up in Glasgow I know all about football rivalries. Just cause the Merseyside one isn’t steeped in hate and isn’t as volatile, it’s still huge in it’s own way. The city stops leading up to the fixture and the fans love to have the bragging rights over the other.

If Rafa Benitez can’t succeed at Everton, then Liverpool fans will call him Agent Rafa.

As soon as a bad run hits, Everton supporters will turn on him (if they haven’t turn on him already) and I just don’t think they will ever fully support him. Maybe if he can bring a trophy or get the club into the top four. I just don’t see present day Rafa Benitez doing that!

Eduardo Camavinga Would Be Ideal Man United Signing

Copyright: Staderennais.com

Over the weekend, a big transfer rumour started to develop regarding Manchester United and it didn’t involve Raphael Varane or Jadon Sancho!

The Old Trafford club have been linked with French teen sensation Eduardo Camavinga, with The Mirror suggesting plans are now in place for United’s transfer gurus to meet with the young player’s advisors.

It would represent a real coup if Man Utd could be the ones to prise away the talented midfielder from Ligue 1 side Stade Rennes.

At just eighteen, Camavinga has already made great strides in his blossoming career. He’s already made over eighty top team appearances for Les Rennais, scoring twice in the process. He has now played in the Champions League and he has also won three caps and scoring for the French national team.

With Rennes not finishing in the European places last term and with the player entering his last year of this contract, the time could be right for United to pounce as every other top side is looking out for a new striker!

So what would Eduardo offer Manchester United?

Well even as a precious talent, Camavinga standing at 6ft tall is already a man for the big leagues. He has the strength to hold off the older opponents, the ability to carry the ball forward and the passing style to keep everything moving in that crowed midfield area.

The youngster is very smart for his age. He can read the game like a player playing at their peak. He’s also a very tenacious tackler, on average in Ligue 1 last year he was winning around 2.8 tackles per game.

According to the stats on Whoscored, Camavinga also boasted a passing success rate of 89%. He’s the man in the middle that keeps the tempo of the game ticking over and helps his side dictate play.

For me, he seems the ideal man to replace Fred in Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s first eleven. The Frenchman could really give United more options in their midfield. He could play at the base with Scott McTominay if things needed to be shored up or he could be the man to sit back and give the ball to a partner like Paul Pogba.

It could actually be the making of Pogba at United. I think they’d make a very handy partnership in the engine-room but I also think Paul would be eager to take Eduardo under his wing and lead by example!

While the young Rennes star isn’t quite an attacking threat yet, French boss Didier Dechamps believes he has the potential to do more in attacking areas too:

“Despite his young age, he’s very confident. 

“He has technical qualities in the use of the ball and he scored a beautifully conceived goal.

“Seeing the ease with which he made those two or three body feints, without touching the ball, shows that he has this technical ease that can allow him to be decisive in offensive zones.”

Via Ligue1.com

As long as Edouardo Camavinga can quickly adapt to the style of the Premier League, then he’d be a very strong asset within the United squad. They’ve often lacked a bit more energy in the midfield and with the eighteen year old Les Bleus star they’d get such a dynamic talent and one with the potential to become a world great.

Getting such a talent at a young age was always the way of it for Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson during their golden era. This is the type of player that they should definitely chase if they become available.

If they were to sign Eduardo Camavinga, then a return to that signing policy of buying the best young stars could bring back trophies to Old Trafford!

John McGinn Would Be A Good Fit At Liverpool

Liverpool will probably be in the market for a new central midfielder this summer as they look to win back the Premier League title from Manchester City.

Obviously Gini Wihnaldum has departed on a free and the Dutchman will be a big miss. Once again the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita endured stop start seasons at Anfield and that has raised question marks surrounding their long term futures at the club.

In recent days the Anfield club have been heavily linked with Aston Villa midfield man John McGinn (Source This Is Anfield).

I don’t doubt McGinn would be a player that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp admires. He is an energetic midfielder and one who can pop up with valuable goals.

While McGinn has started to adapt to life as a holding middle-man at Villa last term, he’s still suited more to the freedom of pushing forward. We know Klopp likes his players to be versatile and to do whatever is necessary for the team and John would fit that mould.

The Glasgow native is at his best when the ball arrives at his feet on a half turn and he can then drive forward. That keeps the opposition on the back foot and it also draws in fouls. 

As previously stated, he has bundles of energy. That can see him cover every blade of grass and use disciplined aggression to put opponents under constant pressure. The midfielder’s passing is also crisp (if sometimes erratic) and those legs can get back and make recoveries too!

John McGinn’s performances were a major factor in Scotland finally getting back to a major tournament. It’s not just Kloppo who is a major fan either, with Scotland captain and Liverpool full-back Andy Roberston revealing in an interview with Four Four Two that McGinn is his son’s favourite player:

“Rocco loves football and now knows a lot of the players. I’d love to say I’m his favourite Scotland player, but I’m not!”

“That, of course, is Super John McGinn. I’m sure most people in Scotland would pick him, so I can’t fault that.”

Andy Robertson

I think John McGinn has all the attributes that would suit Liverpool Football Club. He’s a player, like Robertson, who has never shied away from stepping up and taking opportunities to shine. His previous Premier League experience would be another major tick for Jurgen Klopp.

Yet there seems to be a debate on a potential transfer fee. Early reports claimed the Reds were readying themselves with a £20m offer (Source Daily Record). That won’t be enough to see Villa sell. McGinn is a cult hero at Villa Park, he’s loved by current gaffer Dean Smith and lets not forget that the Scotland international signed a new five year deal back in December 2020!

I’ve got to believe that if Aston Villa were to entertain he notion of selling the twenty-six year old midfielder it won’t be for anything less than double that £20m and it wouldn’t surprise me if they wanted more for one of their star players.

Now would Liverpool want to splash that much on John McGinn? That’s the big question!

Mourinho Making Management Return at Roma with Project for Next Season

It has been more than a decade since Jose Mourinho last managed in Italy, but he returns to Serie A next season with AS Roma after it was revealed fellow Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca would not have his contract renewed.

“The Special One” is still regarded as very special indeed in Italian football. He guided Inter Milan to a historic Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Champions League treble in 2010 (Via UEFA.com), then he left for Real Madrid on the crest of that wave. Three years at the Bernabeu changed Mourinho. The swagger and arrogance, which he backed up in spades during his first spell at Chelsea, were replaced by a more middle-aged agitated demeanour.

His second spell at Stamford Bridge brought another Premier League title but ended acrimoniously. With Manchester United, Mourinho won a fourth League Cup and the Europa League. His most recent job at Tottenham Hotspur finished with the sack just days before a cup final and during the immediate aftermath of the ill-fated European Super League reveal. He will have also noted that his old club Chelsea are doing well without him as Thomas Tuchel guiding them to a Champions League final where they were classed as underdogs in the football betting, even though opponents Manchester City were in their first final so that was something the Blues took advantage of.

What is he getting himself into?

Roma represents a very different challenge for Jose Mourinho. They haven’t won Serie A in 20 years and the last trophy lifted by the Giallorossi was retaining the Coppa Italia in 2008, so expectations aren’t high. Immediate pressure being off Mourinho for once might make for a refreshing change.

Everything points to the outgoing Paulo Fonseca leaving Roma after failing to make the top six for only the second time since 2005. To rub salt in the wounds, local rivals Lazio finished above them in consecutive seasons. Mourinho joins the club at what looks a relatively low ebb.

Antonio Conte, his permanent successor at Chelsea the second time, has just guided Inter to the Scudetto, ending almost a decade of dominance by Juventus. Serie A may have a more open look to its domestic league for the first time in a long while as a result.

Mourinho inherits a Roma squad where senior backup keepers Simone Farelli and Antonio Mirante join Brazilian defensive duo Juan Jesus and Bruno Peres as out of contract in the Eternal City. Former Spurs loanee and Spanish stopper Pau Lopez should come back in goal next season following a shoulder injury. In defense, Mourinho has a couple of familiar faces from former jobs.

Mourinho clearly isn’t coming back to Italy just to relive past glories. This is very much a project that involves developing players, so there won’t be the kind of bankrolling transfers adding to the roster at his disposal he enjoyed when working for Roman Abramovich at Chelsea or Florentino Perez in Madrid.

Manchester United Will Need To Make Big Decision Regarding Euro Star This Summer

This is going to be a big transfer window for Manchester United.

As always the Old Trafford club have been linked with a host of potential new stars. Sky Sports have been reporting that United have tabled an improved offer for Borussia Dortmund and England forward Jadon Sancho.

But big decisions will also be needed when it comes to who stays on with The Red Devils.

I have a feeling this could be a pivotal moment in the career of Daniel James.

The Welshman has been starring for his country at Euro 2020 this summer. The winger has played in all of three of Wales’ group games, shining particularly in the opening two fixtures.

The twenty-three year old has looked bright, with his pace being a standout attribute that’s caught out opponents.

United know that he has this potential to be a game changer and his ability to beat teams with his speed. Unfortunately he hasn’t shown too enough of this at Old Trafford as he has suffered from knocks and inconsistent form.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might be tempted to have a closer look at James during preseason given his international form. But if the United boss does sign Sancho then that could see Daniel’s minutes on the park restricted.

I think if Daniel James is to reach his full potential then he needs to get himself regular starts within the Premier League next term and I don’t see that happening at United.

Now that doesn’t mean that Man Utd should look at simply cashing in on the talent. It could be an ideal solution to see the wideman going out on a season long loan to a club that would give him more first team opportunities.

A Leicester City, an Everton, a West Ham United or a Southampton could be a good fit.

That would hopefully allow Daniel James the opportunity to prove himself week in and week out. That would then give Solskjaer and the United board a dilemma. Play him or sell him. If he does well on loan but isn’t fantastic then at least that would push up the transfer fee.

The Welshman knows himself that he’s not the finished article yet:

“I’m learning. I reflect on every game and every season I’ve played, whether I’ve played zero minutes, whether I play all the games, I think I’m always learning.

“For me, I’m nowhere near my potential and I just want to keep improving.”

Via The Mirror

To reach the next level I really feel he needs to get more top flight starts under his belt. If that cannot happen at Manchester United, then a temporary change of scenery might allow Daniel James the chance to show he can be a long term solution for the Red Devils.

Liverpool Would Be Smart To Chase Swedish Hot-shot Alexander Isak

The Express has suggested that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is keeping an eye on Swedish striker Alexander Isak at Euro 2020.

I think The Reds need to purchase at least one new forward before next season kicks-off. They clearly have three great forwards in Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. They also have a very good wide-man in Diogo Jota.

They could do with another a goalscorer within their ranks and the exciting talent of Isak may fit the bill.

The Twenty-one year old struck seventeen times in La Liga for Real Sociedad last term. His form won his the award for best foreign player in Spain.

He has also struck six times for Sweden in his first twenty-three outings for his national side. Alexander was unfortunate not to score during his nation’s opening game at the Euros against Spain, seeing his effort hit the woodwork. He will be viewed as the next stunning Swedish forward to follow the likes of Thomas Brolin, Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Isak possesses great close control and that allows him to keep the ball in tight positions and get away from opponents inside their penalty area. He’s extremely athletic and also very composed when chances fall to him. The youngster is also quick to react to things like rebounds and mistakes from the opposition. He doesn’t mind drifting into the channels and that will suit the likes of Salah and Mane at Anfield. It’s also promising that he can come deep and links up well with fellow forwards.

Unlike compatriot Zlatan, who he has been compared with, off of the park Isak is modest and has his feet on the ground.

Former teammate Nils-Eric Johansson stated as much:

“There are many talented young players, but they usually need time before learning to connect with each other and play like a team. Isak was just 16, but played like a 26-year-old. That was absolutely remarkable.

“Zlatan wants to make a show; Isak doesn’t. He is exactly the same on and off the pitch. Maybe some arrogance could actually have helped him.”

Via BBC Sport

That humility could be seen as another bonus for a coach like Klopp, who likes his players to work for each other and do everything for the betterment of the team!

Now while it’s never the best idea to sign a player just based off a tournament, Alexander Isak has already shown us that he can score in a top European league and that he has the skill-set to fit into this Liverpool squad.

Best Is Yet To Come From £113M Ace Joao Felix

In Portugal’s opening game of Euro 2020, many onlookers were shocked to see João Félix occupying a place on the bench for the entirety of the match.

Expected to demolish Hungary, the reigning champions of Europe struggled to pry the home team open until the final ten minutes of the game, eventually winning 3-0 (BBC Match Report). 

Still, an attacking talent as raved about as Félix is expected to be a regular feature, particularly against foes like Hungary. When you look at the starting XI, though, it’s clear to see that the 21-year-old has to truly earn his place. 

An incredibly flexible forward, the Atlético Madrid starlet could occupy any of Portugal’s four attacking positions. To do that, though, he’d have to prove himself savvier than Diogo Jota of Liverpool, Bernardo Silva of Manchester City, Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United, or the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo himself. 

The slow start to the late Euro 2020 tournament shouldn’t be seen as an indicator of a player struggling. History suggests that, should he live up to his billing, Félix isn’t far from an explosive coming of age campaign. 

Giving a natural talent enough time 

All the way back in July 2019 (Via BBC Sport), Atlético Madrid decided to pay a massive £113 million to Benfica for 19-year-old João Félix. He had only made his senior debut that season, going on to score twenty goals and set up eleven more in all competitions, and raise the Liga NOS trophy. 

Since the move, Diego Simeone has been right to nurture the Portuguese talent, give him game time, but also attempt to keep the pressure off of the team’s top wonderkid. Signed through until 2026, with a team that just usurped the hierarchy to win La Liga, Félix has plenty of time to harness his raw talent. 

Still, though, for £113 million, many would have expected an output of more than 19 goals and nine assists in 76 games – even in a tougher league for a team that’s not as dominant as Benfica are in Portugal. Injury bouts haven’t helped his consistency, but he has shown enough to continue to play for Portugal since June 2019. 

This summer’s delayed tournament that spans the continent is very being seen as a showcase for some of the sport’s best young talents, with João Félix certainly being one of the Euro 2020 players to watch. Despite his age and domestic frustrations, the Viseu-native is already tipped as the one to who Cristiano Ronaldo will pass the torch too. 

If he lives up to the comparisons, Félix will breakout soon 

Félix and Ronaldo have often invited comparisons, and while comparing them directly is unfair to the 21-year-old – as they play very different roles and in different styles – the potential seen in the wonderkid does hint to similar heights as Ronaldo. Looking at the stats, a similar timescale for his breakout could be on the cards. 

Ronaldo moved from Portugal to Manchester United for the 2003/04 season, joining the defending champions who remained one of the best teams in Europe but had to deal with a resurgent Arsenal and newly cash-stacked Chelsea. In his first two seasons with an elite club in an elite division, the now-legend scored six goals and nine assists in forty games, and then nine goals and nine assists in fifty appearances, showing steady progress. 

Félix, for a relatively new power in Spanish football that hadn’t won the title in five years at the time, has played fewer games but has scored more goals. While playing in a league that’s not as competitive as the Premier League, the youngster has had seasons of nine goals and three assists in 36 games, as well as the most recent forty match campaign that featured ten goals and six assists, showing steady progress. 

Ronaldo’s big breakout campaign didn’t come in his third season, which saw more growth to twelve goals and nine assists, but in his fourth season at United. The mighty winger exploded for twenty three goals and twenty two assists in 53 games in 2006/07, turning 22-years-old during the campaign. JoãoFélix will hit that age this season, but his career in the upper-echelons did start a year later than Ronaldo’s. 

Certainly among those top players to watch at Euro 2020, his big breakthrough may not come to fruition until the 2022/23 campaign, even if he follows in Cristiano Ronaldo’s footsteps. Still, he could always arrive a little earlier, perhaps at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Scotland – Drink It All In And Enjoy The Moment

The day has finally arrived! After a nervy night’s sleep it’s Scotland’s day to prove that we aren’t just here to party, we are here to compete.

No chance has our squad arrived with just a couple of tins of Tennents telling the rest of Europe ‘We are just here till the music starts‘.

Our men have ended an extra long wait to get here. They will now fight for every ball and they will battle for every point!

As fans; young and old, I implore you to sit back and enjoy this moment.

Growing up in the nineties I never realised how spoilt I actually was.

The first international tournament I can remember was Italia 90‘ and The Tartan Army were there. For the next decade, we would turn up to two Euros and another World Cup. We were expected to turn up, have a party and then depart before the interesting rounds took place.

Yet no international party has been the same since France 98′ as our Tartan clad foot-soldiers haven’t drank cities dry nor have they swarmed any fountains.

Now, yes this time will be different and not just because of Covid. We actually have a team coming into a major finals with some confidence.

Scotland possesses a team that includes a Champions League winner, Scottish Premiership champions, Premier League standouts, stars of European club competitions and players that have tasted success throughout the years!

In Steve Clarke, we have a superb manager that gets the most from his players and who has found a system that makes us hard to beat.

There is a hype train rolling into Hampden Park this afternoon and our fans, limited as they are, are ready to boogie!

If the Christian Eriksen incident has shown us anything, it’s don’t take life for granted. Enjoy these special moments. There’s a whole generation of young Scots that have never experienced this and us older supporters shouldn’t dull their optimism with any sad stories about our past.

For those that tell me ‘Aye but Scotland have never qualified out of the group stages’, I say to them – Yes but we’ve never played the bulk of our group ties on our own turf.

The Hampden Roar might not be as loud as usual but you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll still drive our boys on and intimidate opponents.

Be thankful wherever you watch our opening game. Whether it’s in school, at work, in the fan-zone or in the stadium. I’ll be out with pals in the pub and that will make it extra special. I’ve not been able to do that since 2019. I won’t be taking it for granted.

These days don’t come around every day, our men’s side haven’t tasted this occasion in the last twenty-three years.

So enjoy every moment and shout our team on to victory. Let’s see who will become our new heroes.

Let’s dream Scotland fans. It is time to get excited and believe that this is our time.


Danish Could Be Ultimate Dark Horses Again

The Danish national team are always a team to lookout for in a big tournament.

In the 80s they had the Danish Dynamite team that took the world by storm. In 1998 they took then world champions Brazil to their limits at France 98.

When you think of the ultimate dark horses; it’s hard not to think of the Danish side that climbed off their deckchairs, clambered off the beaches and won EURO 92. They only qualified because Yugoslavia went into a civil war and couldn’t compete.

Denmark have always produced fantastic players and played with a real flair. You’ve had the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Preben Elkjaer, Jon Dahl Tomasson and the Laudrup brothers shining in Danish red!

Coming into Euro 2020 and once again the Dane’s look like a strong unit.

They have a great goalkeeper and leader in Kasper Schmeichel (Son of Peter).

They have plenty of experience in Simon Kjaer, Thomas Delaney and Daniel Wass.

A talented Champions League winner in Chelsea centre-back Andreas Christensen.

Playmaker Christian Eriksen is still the maestro that makes this generation tick for The Red and Whites. He might have endured a tough start to his Inter Milan career but the twenty-nine year old managed to break into their side and help them win the Scudetto this season. He’s this Danish side’s leading scorer with 36 strikes in his 108 caps. He has also bagged four in his last six for his national side.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg could prove to be vital in breaking up play and getting the ball to talisman Eriksen’s feet.

While it’s true that none of their strikers has reached double figures in international football, they still provide a threat. FC Barcelona man Martin Braithwaite is always dangerous. Kasper Dolberg has plenty of potential and twenty year old Mikel Damsgard is an exciting attacker who likes to dribble at the opposition.

Looking at this Danish side, they have a good mix of young talent and old experienced heads. They look very strong as a unit, yet still have a magical source in Eriksen.

They come into the tournament in fine form too. They’re unbeaten in their last five outings and that includes a superb 4-0 victory over a pretty decent Austrian team (Via UEFA.com).

The Dane’s will also have a very manageable group and have a very intriguing opening game against fellow Scandinavians Finland. Playing that first game in Copenhagen and in front of their own support should give Denmark all the encouragement they need to start well!

They could finish second behind the Belgians in Group B and that might actually give them an easier route to the Euro 2020 final.

With Denmark’s history and the strength in depth they possess in their current squad it would be foolish not to see them as potential dark horses once again!

Their manager Kasper Hjulmand has stated that his squad are already dreaming of success:

“We are comfortable and we believe in ourselves,” 

“We do dare to dream big but we also know that there are bigger countries out there with better opportunities to win it all. So our first aim is to progress from the group and then everything can happen.”

Via Barron’s

It will be interesting to see just how far this Danish side can go, can they really explode and surprise the world yet again?

Italian Hitman Ciro Immobile Could Be Golden Boot Worthy

Today is the day, Euro 2020 has finally arrived! Hip Hip Hooray!!!

I spent my morning picking my Euro 2020 fantasy team over at UEFA.com and as always you have to research these big decisions.

Italy have been fairly impressive coming into this tournament. The Azzurri have won their last seven on the trot.

They are once again looking like a defensive powerhouse, having kept clean-sheets in all those seven victories.

Up-top they could now have a striker that will threaten the leading scorers chart.

Ciro Immobile has a sensational goalscoring record in Serie A with Lazio. Ciro has bagged himself 123 strikes in 177 league outings for I Biancocelesti.

His goalscoring record for his national team is a bit more modest, with him standing at on 13 goals in 46 caps.

But the thirty-one year old has struck three in his last four games this year for Italy. Those goals came in wins over Northern Ireland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.

Italian boss Roberto Mancini will have to decide whether he starts with Torino’s Andrea Belotti or go with Immobile. The fact it’s a competition might sway in Ciro’s favour, given previous comments from Mancini:

“Ciro has always done well when playing with us. If we had 38 games in a row together, he’d score 25 goals, but it’s tougher when you only get together every now and then.”

Via Football Italia

His late season form for Lazio was also impressive and that too might give him an edge over rivals. Immobile struck six times in his last nine appearances this term. He also set-up two assists for teammates.

The thirty-one year old is a good all-round attacker. He can get in behind defences, he can make first time finishes and score with his head too. His movement can be sublime and that often allows him to find space inside the box.

It would also make for a good redemption story if Ciro steps up and leads the scoring charts in the summer’s tournament. Quite a lot of Italians blamed him for misses against Sweden in the World Cup play-off loss in 2017.

Italy loves a redemption story, just ask Roberto Baggio!

It would be a very Italian story if they were to miss out in the last World Cup and then go on to win this summer’s Euros and for fall guy Ciro Immobile to go from zero to hero.

Being a romantic, that’s why I have selected Ciro in my fantasy team and backing him to win the golden boot!