Giacomo Bonaventura replaces injured Lorenzo Insigne in Italy squad
Image via AP

In a move to bolster his squad ahead of upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying matches against Azerbaijan and Norway, head coach Antonio Conte has added AC Milan midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura to the team.

The midfielder was added to the team as a replacement for Lorenzo Insigne, who sustained a knee injury.

Has started season strongly

Bonaventura has started the season strong for the Rossoneri, with two goal and three assists in seven appearances for the San Siro tenants. According to WhoScored, he has posted a 7.20 game rating. His rating checks out as the highest on the Milan squad.

Able to operate in central midfield or in an attacking position, Bonaventura has carried over his success from last season. The midfielder has completed 84.3% of his passes, while chipping in with 1.1 crosses and 1.9 long balls per contest. He’s also contributed two key passes per game. This is his second season with Milan after arriving from Atalanta.

The former Atalanta player leads the team with three assists and trails only Carlos Bacca in the goal department.

He posted a 7.09 WhoScored rating last season while contributing seven goals and four assists in 33 appearances.

Joins a talented group

Despite losing a player who generally operates high up the pitch, Conte chose  a midfielder in Bonaventura as the replacement. The Milan player joins a talented grouping of midfielders that includes fellow Rossoneri players Riccardo Montolivo and Andrea Bertolacci, Lazio teammates Antonio Candreva and Marco Parolo, Sampdoria midfielder Roberto Soriano, Roma utility player Alessandro Florenzi, Paris Saint-Germain pass-master Marco Verratti and New York City FC’s legendary Andrea Pirlo.

Bonaventura joins Milan teammates Montolivo, Bertolacci, as well as defenders Mattia De Sciglio and Luca Antonelli. Forward Stephan El Shaarawy is also on the team. El Shaarawy is on loan from Milan at Monaco.

The group of five Milan players (excluding El Shaarawy) are tied with Juventus in terms of clubs with the most players on the Italian roster.

Norway game may well decide group winner

Italy sits atop Group H with 18 points from eight games. They will travel to Azerbaijan to battle the hosts, who are second-to-last in the group with six points. The Azzurri’s matchup with Norway will be extremely crucial, because it may well decide who wins the group. The Norwegians are currently second in the group with 16 points. They will wrap up the qualifying round against Italy in Rome.

The Italians are assured at least third place (and a playoff spot) in the group.  

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