1) Mattia Caldara (Atalanta) –
The young defender has picked up where he left off last season and has been in sensational form for Atalanta, establishing himself as a key figure in gli Orobici’s Europa League campaign. This season, Caldara has arguably been the best centre-back in the league alongside the likes of Alessio Romagnoli and Milan Skriniar. Capable of playing in a back three or four, the 23-year-old would have been an ideal option for an Azzurri side looking to rebuild with youth. In theory, low-pressure friendly clashes against quality opposition like these would have been a good platform for Caldara to earn his stripes and take his first steps with the senior setup.
The inclusion of Sampdoria’s Gian Marco Ferrari – albeit in form – becomes even more of a head-scratcher when you consider the Atalanta man was left home. Caldara has made 28 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals and adding two assists in the process.