To the delight of many Napoli fans the world over, Lorenzo Insigne made Italy's final 23 man roster, with Cesare Prandelli deciding that a a fit Insigne offered his squad more than a Giuseppe Rossi still making his way make to full health from another serious knee injury. Napoli's favorite son will be heading to Brazil to take part in the World Cup, and will be hoping to seize his chance at glory with both hands.
Now his focus is on helping Italy get out of their group, and that will be no easy task. Everyone likes to point and laugh at England, but they're putting out a decent side that has the ability to play very well, if the tactics can be figured out. Uruguay have been in abhorrent form for the last three years after winning the Copa America, but you can never count out a side that boasts a front including Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. Costa Rica are the clear minnows of the group, but aren't untalented and play with an "eff the world" style that could cause a surprise or two before all is said and done.
While Insigne may not be a keystone member of the squad, you can be assured that before Italy's World Cup ride is over, he'll have been involved in a big moment or two. In any role he's asked to play, he'll be giving it his all to help his country win, and that energy could turn vital for Italy's hopes for success in the tournament.
Wide Forward/Second Striker
Caps: 5, Goals: 1
Service for Italy: Insigne has just five caps for the senior squad in his young career, with the 23 year old striker making his debut against Malta in a World Cup qualifier in September of 2012. He's got experience in international football, though, starring for Italy's U20 and U21 squads to the tune of a combined 20 caps and eight goals scored at the top youth levels.
Now he's made the jump to being a full international, including scoring his first goal, Italy's only tally in a friendly against Argentina last summer. He's been a regular callup since getting his first cap, though he's usually left watching from the bench so far. After a strong season with Napoli, however, and the structure of Italy's squad, he could be in line for a start or two, or at least several chances to make an impact as a substitute.
What makes him interesting: Insigne has a dynamic, energetic style that Italy's squad otherwise lacks in it's attackers. Antonio Cassano and Alessio Cerci offer some of the same creative and box-disrupting skills that Insigne does, but don't do it with the same energy and entusiasm that Insigne brings to the table. Frankly, you wouldn't know that he's as small as he is to watch him, because he plays with such... vigor, that it doesn't hold him back except, of course, on aerial challenges.
Other than perhaps Antonio Candreva, Insigne is Italy's best option for a wide attacker either starting or coming on late in matches, with Cerci operating much better centrally and Cassano not having the legs to work out wide any more. His ability to play equally well as a second striker grants him a versatility that will make him very important late in matches, as it will give Prandelli the ability to change shape if needed, or maintain shape and put a pair of fresh and energetic legs on the pitch to take advantage of a tired defense.
What to expect in Brazil: A 100% committed performance and visible disappointment after the match if he doesn't do what he feels is enough to help Italy win. Insigne is passionate to the bone, and this is the greatest challenge on the biggest stage that he's been on in his career. Many players would shy or fall short of expectations under such circumstances, but Insigne is not the type of man to let things overcome him like that. I completely expect to see him change the entire face of at least once match while Italy are still in the World Cup.