Alessio Cragno is destined to play for one of the Serie A giants, but Roberto Mancini surprisingly dropped him from the Italy squad at Euro 2020, writes Martin Monk.
Alessio Cragno has made a name for himself in Cagliari and it seems preordained that he will dress in the colours of an Italian giant one day.
The 26-year-old proves that there’s a wealth of goalkeeping talent at Italy’s disposal and many players vying to become the next No. 1 after Gianluigi Buffon.
At the moment, Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has been the natural successor, but he will certainly be pushed by the likes of Cragno and Alex Meret in the coming years.
Cragno, the former Brescia youth player, moved to Cagliari in July 2014 but waited patiently for his chance to shine at the Sardegna Arena. His season on loan at Benevento in 2016-17 gave the lad from Fiesole his real breakthrough and all eyes were on “L’Uomo Cragno” when he returned to Sant’Elia.
The 26-year-old was a key player when the Streghe won promotion to Serie A through the play-offs and was the first goalkeeper named Player of the Year in Serie B, following other household names like Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and Marco Verratti.
The shot-stopper grabbed the opportunity with both hands and has since donned the gloves in Sardinia and has played 131 games for the Rossoblu in the top flight, keeping 25 clean sheets in the process.
The Tuscan received his first senior international call-up when Italy played their first two UEFA Nations League games against Portugal and Poland in 2018, and he wore the Azzurri shirt for the first time in January 2011 with the Under-17 squad, climbing through the U18, U19, U20 and U21 sides.
The Cagliari man made his debut for the Azzurri in a 6-0 friendly win over Moldova in October 2020.
He kept another clean sheet when he started the friendly against San Marino ahead of Euro 2020, his only two caps so far. The Casteddu goalkeeper is not Italy’s first choice, but a very reliable option who will have an opportunity to shine with the Azzurri in the future.