Ranocchia faces make-or-break stage in career

Andrea Ranocchia missed out on selection in Antonio Conte’s preliminary Italy squad for Euro 2016, continuing his run of poor fortune.

The Azzurri were pressed into several difficult selections for the tournament, and the 28-year-old narrowly missed out on a place on the plane to France after featuring earlier in the year for Conte’s men.

As of 27th May, Italy are backed at 16/1 in the latest Euro 2016 betting odds to win the competition for the second time in their history, but they will have to do so without the services of Ranocchia.

Ranocchia was a key player for Inter Milan during the reigns of Andrea Stramaccioni and Walter Mazzarri.

However, Roberto Mancini deemed the defender surplus to requirements last season, despite featuring prominently as captain for the Nerazzurri in the 51-year-old’s first term at the club.

The Italian was also a regular in Conte’s squads for their Euro 2016 qualifiers, making 11 appearances for the Azzurri under the tenure of the former Juventus boss.

At the start of last season, Ranocchia was stripped of the captaincy by Mancini as the manager handed the armband over to striker Mauro Icardi, losing patience with the centre-back’s mistakes from the 2014/15 campaign.

Ranocchia made a crucial error allowing Gonzalo Higuain to fire Napoli past the Nerazzurri into the Coppa Italia semis, while further mistakes followed in the club’s Europa League clash against Wolfsburg and Serie A matches with Parma and Genoa.

Although the defender signed a contract extension until 2019 with the Milan-based outfit, the arrivals of Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo pushed him down the pecking order.

Ranocchia was linked with moves to Liverpool, Everton and Norwich City during the transfer window, but remained at Inter and featured off the bench 10 times before January.

However, he secured a loan switch to Sampdoria in January and managed to rediscover his best form for Vincenzo Montella’s men, with the only blight being a late red card in their 0-0 draw against Sassuolo.

Ranocchia’s improvement was deemed good enough to regain his place in Conte’s squad for friendly matches against Spain and Germany, although he only played the last 30 minutes of their defeat to Die Mannschaft.

He failed to make an impact on Conte’s decision to go with inexperienced back-up options for the tournament as Angelo Ogbonna, Daniele Rugani and Davide Astori all made the 30-man squad.

As a result, the defender faces a crossroads in his career as Sampdoria refused the option to make his loan deal permanent, leaving him with an important summer ahead at Inter or elsewhere.

The future of Mancini at Inter could also play a huge part in his decision as a new manager may break-up the partnership of Murrilo and Juan Jesus at the back.

Ranocchia has all the attributes needed to be a successful defender with the height and strength to cope with physical players in the final third, while he is also no slouch with enough pace along with positional awareness to cope with speedy forwards.

A move to the Premier League could bring out the best in the Italian once again, perhaps under his former boss at Inter, Mazzarri, who has been named as the new manager of Watford.

He would have no problem with the physical rigours of the Premier League and has a good injury record, which will endear him to teams in the English top flight and their hectic fixture schedules.

Numerous Italians have arrived in England and thrived, which may be enough to push him back into the plans of the next manager of the Azzurri for the 2018 World Cup.

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