Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli has dismissed speculation linking him away from the club this summer – insisting he is focused on fulfilling his childhood dream of representing Italy at a major tournament.
The 23-year-old has been tipped for a move to Manchester City and Juventus in recent weeks after another impressive campaign with his club, which earned the former Milan playmaker a call-up to Roberto Mancini’s Italy squad for the Euros.
Locatelli is expected to start in the place of the injured Marco Verratti in the tournament’s opening game on Friday, when Italy take on Turkey in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli has dismissed speculation about his future at Sassuolo
The promising star insists his full focus is on representing his country at Euro 2020
His name has featured in several newspapers in recent weeks amid speculation of Juventus interest, but he insisted that no decisions will be made on his future until the end of the tournament.
‘It is just gossip. There is such an important competition to play and I am focused on that,’ he said.
‘It is normal to have rumours about the transfer market, but I will not let myself be influenced by them.’
‘It would be a waste of time to think about that, even though I know that after the Euros will have some decisions to make.’
He has been linked with a move to join Pep Guardiola (L) at Man City, while Max Allegri (R) and Juventus are also said to be interested
Instead, he is putting all of his efforts and focus towards playing for the Azzurri this summer, as he prepares to fulfil a childhood ambition of taking part at the European Championships.
‘Representing Italy and the Italian people at the Euros is a beautiful responsibility that everyone wants to have. It is something to tell our children about,’ Locatelli told a news conference.
‘For me it is a dream that I have had since I was a child. I used to watch these competitions on a big screen with my friends.
‘Turkey are an important team, they have great players like Hakan Calhanoglu, who I used to play with. It will not be easy, but we have to give everything.’
Locatelli has enjoyed a superb season and admits he will have a ‘decision to make’ this summer
Last month, reports in Italy claimed new Juventus boss Max Allegri was plotting a move for Locatelli as his first signing back in Turin after an impressive campaign saw him score four goals and provide two assists in 34 appearances.
Having started his career at the San Siro, he was initially loaned out to Sassuolo in 2018 before the club made the move permanent the following year.
He has previously hinted he would be willing to leave the club and venture outside Italy – suggesting PSG could be a possible destination.
‘I dream of playing in the Champions League,’ he told L’Equipe in May. ‘I am open to an experience outside of Italy. When you see Verratti, Florenzi and Kean succeed, it makes you want to do it too.’