Marco Verratti backs Italy's Giampiero Ventura despite Berardi exclusion

Marco Verratti believes Giampiero Ventura is the right man to carry forward the work done by Antonio Conte as Italy coach, even if the former Torino boss has come under fire for his refusal to consider Sassuolo's Domenico Berardi.

Verratti is back on international duty having missed out on Euro 2016 due to injury. He said that by merely watching that tournament on television, he could see how well Conte had formed a solid group of players "who won over the hearts of the fans."

Now that the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is able to see this new-found team spirit in person, he believes Ventura can build upon the foundations laid by his predecessor.

"Each coach has his own style and work methods and Ventura is a great professional," Verratti told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He is a real hard worker and has a great deal of experience in football.

"Everybody speaks highly of him and I think he's perfect for the national team, and he can easily carry on the work started by Conte."

Not everybody is speaking so highly of the former Torino coach, however.

His decision to leave Berardi out of his squad did not raise any eyebrows, since the 22-year-old was instead picked for the under-21s for important European qualifiers.

But Ventura's comments about Verardi at a news conference on Monday caused consternation.

Asked why Italy's most prolific scorer this season, with seven goals to his name already, did not stand a chance of playing for him, Ventura told reporters:

"The same goes for Berardi [as for Stephan El Shaarawy]," Ventura said. "As long as we play this formation [3-5-2], wing forwards will struggle to find room. We have so many wingers with great potential, it would be a sin not to give them time."

Giorgio Squinzi, the president of Berardi's club, told La Gazzetta he hoped Ventura would reconsider.

"It takes some courage to reject somebody like him," said Squinzi. "I'm sure he will change his mind. Domenico is currently Italy's best player and he can play in various roles in the attack -- as the second forward or out wide. Why reject him? It seems absurd."

Berardi would not have been able to play in Thursday's friendly with France or Monday's opening World Cup qualifier against Israel anyway since a knee injury he picked up at the weekend has ruled him out for two to three weeks.

That means he will also miss Sassuolo's top-of-the-table clash with Juventus on Sept. 11, but Ventura effectively ruled him out of all his future squad selections too by saying he does not fit in his 3-5-2 style of play.

"In truth, even [Alessio] Cerci, before he met the maestro Ventura, seemed like he was only suited to playing in a 4-3-3, but then Ventura transformed him and he did a great job in his Torino side as the second forward," said former Inter and Italy defender Beppe Bergomi, who explained how Arrigo Sacchi apologised to him long after excluding him in similar circumstances, admitting he had made a mistake by not giving him a chance.

"He should try it with Berardi too and make him feel part of the group straight away."

Berardi has scored five goals in four Europa League qualifying matches this season and he also found the back of the net in each of Sassuolo's opening two Serie A fixtures, helping them into a share of top spot with their next opponents Juventus and the two Genovese clubs.

He has yet to make his debut for Italy and is currently captain of the under-21s.