Last Sunday, Italy failed to break the deadlock against Switzerland, as their all-important World Cup qualifier proved to be a goalless affair. The Italians set a new world record by stretching their unbeaten run to 36 international matches, but their second draw in a row left them exposed on the top of their group.

However, Manuel Locatelli’s efforts throughout the encounter didn’t go unnoticed. The new Juventus player replaced Marco Verratti in Roberto Mancini’s starting lineup and delivered the goods.

The former Sassuolo man’s positive impact was felt on both phases, and his vertical long balls provided the best chances of the match for the Azzurri.

Former Italy striker Antonio Cassano was left impressed by the Bianconeri star, and he hopes to see him play a major role for the national team in Qatar 2022 – provided that Mancini’s men seal their qualification first.

“Locatelli impressed me, he must be a reference point for the World Cup too. He is the only one who always plays vertically,” said the notorious star on Twitch via TuttoJuve.

“We have a big problem which is the number 9. I don’t know if we will ever find a solution. I’m not sure if Gianluca Scamacca is a player of international level.

“Then at the World Cup there are also the South Americans, but thanks to the genius of Mancini, something can be invented.”

It remains to be seen if Locatelli will maintain a starting position for Italy’s upcoming fixture against Lithuania on Wednesday.