Amauri option looks risky for Lippi

ROME - Marcello Lippi said he will consider Amauri for his World Cup squad after the Brazilian-born forward obtained Italian citizenship last week, but the Italy coach would be taking a big risk if he gave him the nod.

The 29-year-old is eligible for the world champions as he has never represented his homeland after Juventus refused to release him last year for his solitary call-up from Brazil coach Dunga, saying the request came too late.

That move led to media speculation that Lippi had promised him a squad place when his Italian passport came through.

Lippi has denied giving any guarantees but has praised Amauri's attachment to the Italian colours.

"It was a good idea of (former Italy coach Roberto) Donadoni to have Amauri obtain Italian citizenship and when I returned to the national team I said I was in favour because he's an important player," Lippi told reporters.

"The choice Amauri made was not an easy one. He dearly wanted to become an Italian citizen, you could see it in the emotion he showed during the swearing-in ceremony."

The simple fact he is being considered is significant, as Lippi has ruled out selecting other naturalised Italians who have expressed a desire to join the Azzurri fold, such Inter Milan's Thiago Motta, who was also born in Brazil.

In Amauri's favour is that, when on form, he is a complete footballer with an imposing physical presence and good control.

The main problem is that he has scored just five league goals for troubled Juventus so far this term.

His main rivals for the fourth or fifth striker spot in the Azzurri squad, such as AC Milan's Marco Borriello, Sampdoria's Giampaolo Pazzini and Napoli's Fabio Quagliarella, have all been more prolific this term.

So unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the last four games of the season, Lippi would be selecting an out-of-form, ageing striker with no international experience.

On top of that is the risk that the entry of a foreign-born player, who unlike naturalised Argentine wing Mauro Camoranesi does not have Italian ancestry, could damage team harmony.

Pazzini said last year that the Amauri situation "annoyed" him and Quagliarella's father Vittorio recently said his selection for the World Cup squad would be "scandalous".

"It would be a little strange and hard to understand," former Italy midfielder Stefano Fiore told Reuters. "I think you should call up the players who are the best expression of the championship.

"Amauri is a very good player but maybe this year isn't his best. Italy have lots of good forwards, players you can count on with your eyes closed like Borriello and Pazzini."

Italy are drawn in Group F with Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia for the month-long tournament which starts on June 11.

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