Mancini backs Zaniolo to become key for Italy

Omnisport

Roberto Mancini hopes Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo can become an important player for Italy.

Zaniolo was set to miss Euro 2020 after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in January, but the 20-year-old could benefit from the tournament being pushed back by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The highly rated Zaniolo has scored two goals in five games for Italy and coach Mancini believes he could develop into a vital player for his country.

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"Zaniolo may be a very important player. He is also very young, he will have one more year to improve," he told Rai Sport on Friday.

"My hope is to have all the players available and have difficulty in making choices.

"I think the team can improve. We came from many games played well and won and there was great enthusiasm. It would have been great to play now."

Mancini has helped turn Italy around since taking over in 2018, leading them to 13 wins in 19 games in charge.

The former Inter and Manchester City coach had Italy as among the favourites for the European Championship, but acknowledged the postponement changed things.

"There will be difficulties because this is something that has never happened before," Mancini said.

"Starting again will not be easy."

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