Alex Meret battled with David Ospina for a starting spot at Napoli and beat Alessio Cragno to make it into the Italy Euro 2020 squad, writes Martin Monk.
When Meret was fighting with Ospina for a place in the starting line-up at Napoli, the 24-year-old’s agent threatened he could have left the Stadio Maradona to get more playing time elsewhere.
But in recent months, the former Udinese keeper has regained the faith at the Partenopei and finished the season starting the last eight games and even earned a spot in Italy’s Euro 2020 squad.
There’s something special about this young shot stopper, who made his Italy debut when Italy won 9-1 over Armenia in the Euro 2020 qualifier, and it didn’t go unnoticed among the top clubs in Serie A. Reports emerged during his time at SPAL that Antonio Conte, Jürgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri were interested in the then 20-year-old, as he was looking for a big move after his success with the Biancazzurri.
Napoli always seemed to be in pole position for Meret’s signature and eventually signed the player on loan from Udinese with an obligation to buy in July 2018. His value, already having caught the eye of the giants during his time with the Italy youth teams, has continuously increased and Meret is known for having a humble mentality and eagerness to work hard to improve.
The former Udinese starlet has incredible shot-stopping abilities and is always determined to get to the end of every cross, always immediately returning to his line to stop the next potential attempt. Meret has technical attributes admired by many and needed to keep the best Italian goalkeepers on their toes in the fight for the No. 1 jersey.
Meret has only been capped twice so far but is another one for the future in the goalkeeping department, as Italy never seem to stop producing excellent shot-stoppers. He has played 78 competitive games for the Partenopei, keeping 23 clean sheets in the process.
The 24-year-old spent one year and a half fighting for a starting spot with Ospina and, ironically, he’s done the same during the last week of training in Sardinia with the Azzurri.
Mancini picked him ahead of Cragno and Meret will be the third-choice goalkeeper at the Euros. He may not get playing time, but it will be a useful experience for his career.