Graziano Pelle's big boost after flirtation with Italian squad
Southampton`s new powerhouse striker Graziano Pelle has hit the Premier League running and is full of confidence after four goals in five competitive matches propelled him to the fringes of the Italian squad, Saints boss Ronald Koeman told reporters.
Southampton: Southampton`s new powerhouse striker Graziano Pelle has hit the Premier League running and is full of confidence after four goals in five competitive matches propelled him to the fringes of the Italian squad, Saints boss Ronald Koeman told reporters.
Pelle, who has represented Italy at under-21 level but never won a full cap, inched closer to that honour this month when he was included on a "long list" for the Azzurri`s friendly with the Netherlands, and the Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway earlier this month.
"He was one of the pre-list of the Italian national team and when he is doing like he is doing now, then maybe he is one possibility for the coach of Italy," Koeman said.
"If you show that quality in the Premier League, of course you are good enough to be part of the Italian squad... but eventually the national coach has to make that decision.
"But of course, that (inclusion) gave him the support that he is doing well, and that he is in the head of the coach of the national squad, because you don`t put anybody on the pre-list if you don`t think (a lot of) that player."
Koeman brought the 29-year-old with him to St Mary`s from Feyenoord in the summer, but even he has been surprised at how quickly the burly target-man has found his feet in England.
"He knows exactly what is his qualities and... what you have to do well to play in the Premier League -- you have to be sharp from the first minute until the last minute," Koeman said.
"In all what you do, you have to be 100 per cent and he`s doing that. The qualities, the strengths of the player, he is showing."
Pelle scored twice in Southampton`s last showing, a 4-0 demolition of Newcastle, and is more than repaying the trust Koeman showed in him by paying Feyenoord a reported 8 million pounds (13.16 million US dollar) for his services.
"I think that`s close to the best way how he can play," smiled Koeman, relaxed in a grey Southampton polo shirt.
"OK, we don`t talk about a player who is 20-years-old, because they develop much more because they are young, and he is 28, 29, but he can be like this for three or four years more, and if his mind is OK then I think that is the most important for a football player.
"If your mind is OK, if you are really focused on what you have to do, then you can show the best of yourself."
Fourth-placed Southampton visit Swansea, in third, on Saturday.