Possebon to join Macheda and Petrucci in the Azzurini ranks?
Posted by nickogs20 on April 19, 2009
United’s (hitherto) Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo Possebon has been called up by Italy Under-20 coach Francesco Rocca for next week’s friendly between the Azzurini and Germany in Milan.
Rodrigo was born and raised in Sapucaia do Sul, a town in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, and spent his early footballing years in the neighbouring city of Porto Alegre with Sport Club Internacional, but comes from a family with strong Italian heritage, as suggested by his surname. Like his father before him Rodrigo holds both Italian citizenship and an Italian passport and, having thus far been ignored at youth international level by his homeland, the 20 year-old now appears ready to consider throwing his lot in with Italy.
The lack of attention from the selectors back home is perhaps unsurprising – Rodrigo was largely unknown in Brazilian football before his move to England, even as part of the same Inter youth team as Alexandre Pato, now of Milan. The young midfielder has impressed since his €350k move to United in January 2008, some terrific reserve displays pushing him into the first-team picture this season, but it is often the case that young players (not just from Brazil) playing abroad are almost ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and have to do that bit extra in comparison to home-based players in order to earn recognition.
That has not seemingly stopped Signor Rocca taking note of the classy playmaker’s obvious potential. This call-up has apparently been in the pipeline for some time, no doubt instigated by the fantastic start to the season enjoyed by Rodrigo. The well-publicised injury incurred in a horror tackle from Middlesbrough’s Emmanuel Pogatetz back in late September set the youngster back somewhat and it has taken him some time to get back up to speed, but recent displays have indicated a return to something approaching his best form and – with the prospect of a trip to the Under-20 World Cup later in the year a particularly juicy incentive – Rodrigo will be hoping he can carry that over into his Azzurini debut next week.
No firm decision on where his international allegiances lie will need to be made until competitive fixtures roll around, but Wednesday’s “Quattro Nazioni” clash with Germany – as well as perhaps some persuasive words from Messrs Macheda and Petrucci – could go a long way towards making Rodrigo’s mind up.
Update: 18/4/09 – Rodrigo has issued a statement to the Brazilian press on this matter. Thanks to Rafael Maranhao for bringing this to our attention:
“I am very happy to be called up and to have chosen to defend Italy, a country that has recognized my work. There is no come back. From the moment I got the Italian citizenship I knew this could happen. I see it as a way to return what Italy has given me: the possibility to play in Europe and to defend Manchester United. I will do my best to secure a place in the U-20 team and to have a chance in the senior national team later on,”