Graziano Pelle admits he has aspirations of playing for Italy, an ambition he feels he may be able to realise if he continues to impress for Southampton.
The 29-year-old was a prolific goalscorer during a two-year stint in Holland, where he registered 50 goals in 57 Eredivisie appearances for Feyenoord. However, as we have seen in the past, this doesn’t guarantee success in the Premier League, so eyebrows were raised when Ronald Koeman spent a reported £8million to take him from his former employers in the summer.
But Pelle has taken to life in England with aplomb, scoring five goals and assisting in two more in eight matches in all competitions. His latest strike, a superb scissor kick which he teed up with an excellent first touch, proved to be the winner in a 2-1 triumph over Queens Park Rangers at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon, a result which keeps the Saints second in the current standings.
This has led to suggestions that Pelle, who has played for Lecce, Catania, Crotone, Cesena, Parma and Sampdoria in his homeland without ever really hitting the heights, could be called up for the Azzurri in their bid for Euro 2016 qualification campaign. Indeed, he was called up to the preliminary squad last month before being omitted, but he feels now could be his time.
“I believe in myself,” he is quoted in the Southern Daily Echo. “If I was not even inside a small thought of the trainer it would be strange. I’m doing well and I know by myself when I deserve something, when not. I deserve to be considered in the national team at this moment, but I don’t pretend to be selected. There are other players that deserve like I do. We know how many good players Italy has.
“At the end of the list it is only five offensive players that will be in the selection, and to be in the five in all of Italy is not easy. I’m just happy with what I’m doing and until now, for nine years after I was an under-21, I’ve never been in the national team. Of course, I (would) like it, but for me now the focus is to do good with Southampton and if it will come I am going to be super happy to be on.”
Antonio Conte will soon select the players he feels can make an impression in the forthcoming qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Malta, two matches which Italy are expected to win comfortably. There would barely be a better two fixtures for Pelle, who scored seven times in 10 appearances for the Under-20 side and also has 11 caps at Under-21 level, to announce his arrival on the international stage.
Is Pelle good enough for a place in the Italy side, or does he still have more to prove? Let us know what you think by joining the discussion below.