Paletta makes cut for Italy World Cup squad
Strikers Alberto Gilardino and Luca Toni missed out, while Argentine-born defender Gabriel Paletta and controversial forward Antonio Cassano were included in Italy's 30-man provisional World Cup squad named today.
Coach Cesare Prandelli also selected Giorgio Chiellini, a move which is likely to stir up more controversy as the announcement came one day after the key defender was banned for three club matches for elbowing an opponent.
Paletta, who started his career with Banfield and lifted the 2008 Apertura in the colours of Boca Juniors, was rewarded for his performances this season in Parma. The Longchamps native debuted for the Azzurri in March, in a friendly against Spain.
Fellow Italo-Argentine Dani Osvaldo, however, received less welcome news, as the Juventus striker was one of several high-profile frontmen left out of Prandelli's plans in favour of Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano.
Parma striker Cassano, whose career has been littered with tantrums and rows, has not played for Italy since leading the attack at Euro 2012 alongside Balotelli, but forced himself back into contention with 12 goals and some impressive performances this season.
Cassano said recently that he had lost 10 kilos in a bid to make the trip to Brazil.
Gilardino, who played in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, has scored 15 goals for Genoa this season but it was not enough to swing Prandelli.
Toni, 37 this month, had pushed himself into contention with 20 goals for Verona but missed out, as did AS Roma's Francesco Totti, another 37-year-old.
Midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini, a regular in the Confederations Cup last year, was another who failed to make the list.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St Germain), Mattia Perin (Genoa)
Defenders: Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina)
Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris St Germain), Marco Verratti (Paris St Germain), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Marco Parolo (Parma), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Romulo (Verona)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Giuseppe Rossi (Fiorentina), Mattia Destro (AS Roma), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)