National youth coordinator worried by number of foreigners in league.
Former AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi has warned Serie A clubs that there are too many foreigners flooding into the league which could in turn harm the national team.
The 67-year-old is currently employed as the national youth co-ordinator and ultimately plays a vital role in helping young Italian players flourish through the varying stages of the national team.
However, he has delivered a warning to Serie A clubs that they risk damaging the prospects of the Azzurri with their current policy of acquiring foreign talent.
“If I read the formations of the teams it is not an Italian championship, and when there are too many foreigners, history says that our football and national team will suffer,” he said as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“If we look for example at Real Madrid, it is true that there are many foreigners but also many Spaniards, often coming from the youth academy because it makes the fans happy. In Italy, clubs are only interested in winning, and if you do it with 25 foreign field that’s okay,” he concluded.
As reported by Gazzetta, there have already been 52 new arrivals from abroad this summer with many more expected to follow before the start of the new season.
Both Inter and Catania have received criticism in the past for their tradition of signing Argentinian players, while Rafa Benitez has brought in a number of Spaniards since he took charge at Napoli.
Record numbers were reached last year, with the league consisting of 319 foreign players in a total of 583 across Serie A. That’s 54.7%, with 38% from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
The trend started many years ago, with the numbers steadily increasing over the course of the last decade resulting in a high last year.
Starting in 2003-2004, the last campaign with 18 teams, over 473 players participated while 164 were foreigners. The following year, there was a decrease to 163, a mini-slump to 156 in 2006-2007, and then eventual rise came.
196 out of 527 were non-Italians in 2007-2008. The number then passed 200 a year later with 217 of 459 or 39.5%.
A year later there were 238 out of 575 in 2009-2010, although the following campaign there was an Italian majority, with “only” 49.3% of players playing from abroad. The percentage then rose to 51.2% (285 of 557) ahead of the boom to 54.7% Serie A last season.
Sacchi will hope that his warning is heeded by certain clubs in Italy, although the likes of Juventus and Milan have proven that they can be successful with a significant presence of Italian players in their squads.
Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli recently fielded a team made up of 10 players from those two Serie A giants, with only Roma’s Daniele De Rossi preventing it from being a “Juve-Milan” team.
However, while it had been recognised that clubs were giving young Italian talents more opportunities, it remains to be seen whether or not Sacchi’s words have any further effect.