New Italy coach Luciano Spalletti on Monday defended his goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, the target of virulent criticism since the draw against North Macedonia (1-1) Saturday in Skopje.

“Donnarumma will start, I want to answer this question straight away,” Spalletti said at a press conference on the eve of the match against Ukraine in Milan, in qualifying for Euro 2024. “Regarding everything what is said and written about him, it is the nature of the goalkeeper position which is always criticized a lot,” he continued.

“In addition, in his specific case, we cannot forgive him for being a prodigy who skips the steps, who has this talent, who has so many qualities,” said the former Naples coach who succeeded Roberto Mancini , resigned in mid-August. Spalletti, however, warned Donnarumma that he had to “work on his talent”. “He has a gift. At 20 he was already at the top, like Messi and others before him, but it is fundamental that he works, that he makes sacrifices and that he is not presumptuous. When you have been given a talent, you have to improve it, ”said the coach of the Nazionale.

Donnarumma, 24, was criticized in the Italian press for his placement on Enis Bardhi’s superb free kick (81st) which allowed North Macedonia to equalize. The PSG goalkeeper has received support from former Nazionale legend Dino Zoff. “It’s a goal that we can take, it’s not as if he had diverted the ball into his own goal,” said the 1982 world champion on Anch’io Sport radio. “Everything is exaggerated, it’s still the goalkeeper who won us the Euro (2021), I have every confidence in him for the match against Ukraine,” assured Zoff.

Before this match against Ukraine, Italy, reigning European champion, is 3rd in group C (4 pts) with nine points behind the English leader (13 pts) and three behind Ukraine (7 pts). ) who played two matches and one more match respectively. The first two in the group are directly qualified for the final phase in Germany.