Ciro Immobile has been named the new Italy captain under Luciano Spalletti, but is this beneficial for the Lazio talisman?
New Azzurri Era
Previous Azzurri captain Leonardo Bonucci was not called up by Spalletti for the September international break – when the team will face North Macedonia and Ukraine in two Euro 2024 qualifiers – pushing the coach to find a replacement in his squad.
Immobile, who has the most caps in the current Azzurri squad with 56, is now set to don the captain’s armband for his country. He has done this three times in the past, starting with the 1-0 loss to Portugal in the Nations League in September 2018. Find more here about the match.
Controversy Amongst Fans
The decision has not gone down particularly well with Italy supporters, however, with many unimpressed considering the striker’s disappointing history with the national team.
Immobile, who has netted 16 times in 56 Italy games, has often be the scapegoat of Italy’s problems in recent years, with countless supporters blaming the Lazio captain for the lack of goals and generally poor attacking performances.
Despite this, the 33-year-old has continued to be a part of the Azzurri set-up and clearly, Spalletti believes that the striker has a role to play in the coming months in the run-up to Euro 2024. The key question now, however, is focused on if the captain’s armband is actually beneficial for Immobile or not.
Immobile is clearly starting to enter the twilight of his career. Last season, he missed over 16 matches through various injuries and netted just 12 in 31 Serie A games, forcing Maurizio Sarri to rely on his other forwards to find goals.
The 33-year-old has played every available minute for Lazio this season and it’s apparent that he’ll be relied upon heavily again this season, so making him a key part of the new Italy squad only further increases his workload, putting him at risk of further muscle issues.
Whilst there’s no denying the honour of being named captain of your country, it could be beneficial for both Immobile and Lazio if he starts to be phased out of the Azzurri set-up within the next year, allowing him to place his full focus on the Biancocelesti.
This would also give him the chance to get some much-needed rest during the international breaks, which could prove key in the coming years as he sees out the final years of his career in the Italian capital.
What do you think? Is it time for Immobile to start focusing his efforts entirely on Lazio?