â€œI feel affection for him, of course," Mancini told GQ when asked about his protÃ©gÃ©.
â€œHowever, his return to the Azzurri was for purely footballing reasons. Mario is only 28 and still has time to achieve everything he wants, because as well as his physicality and technical ability he now has experience.
â€œHe's grown in every respect. Considering that the national team is destined to lose the core which kept us afloat until the failure with Sweden - whether that's now or in a few years - I need new leaders.
â€œMario has the age and the technical credibility to do that, and luckily he's not the only one."