'There are rules' - Di Biagio explains Kean absence from Italy U21 side

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The Juve star was left on the bench for the Italian youth side’s third and final game of the group, although they still managed to grab three points

Italy Under-21 manager Luigi Di Biagio has hinted that Moise Kean was dropped for Saturday night’s victory against Belgium for disciplinary reasons.

The Juventus striker was expected to start in the Italian’s crunch match in Reggio Emilia, but was surprisingly left on the bench, with Di Biagio instead opting to start Lorenzo Pellegrini, Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone as a front three.

Kean’s shock exclusion from the starting line-up was rumoured to be due to his late arrival at a team meeting and, when asked by the assembled media after the game, Di Biagio implied that the youngster was indeed dropped as a result of his off-the-field behaviour.

“I train a team and there are rules for that team,” the Italy youth coach said. “And if someone does do not comply by the rules, not once, but several times, the coach must intervene. Because I am a coach and also an educator.”

The disappointing incident comes at the end of what has been a fantastic season for the teenager, his first as an established member of the Juventus senior side.

After struggling for minutes in the early part of the campaign, Kean earned a regular spot in the team at the start of March. He rewarded former manager Massimiliano Allegri’s faith by netting an outstanding six goals in six matches.

His excellent showings also saw the attacker receive a call up to Roberto Mancini’s Italy squad. After making his debut in November 2018, Kean went on to play the full 90 minutes in Euro 2020 qualifying wins against Finland and Liechtenstein in March, netting in both matches.

Therefore, he was expected to be the Azzurri’s main offensive threat at this summer’s youth championships. However, that has been far from the case. Kean started in Italy’s opening game of the tournament - a 3-1 win against Spain - but was replaced after 60 minutes.

The 19-year-old began on the bench in the 1-0 defat to Poland three days later, and was below par during his second-half introduction.

He was, of course, once again relegated to a place on the bench in Italy’s final group game and was not brought on during the 3-1 victory.

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The win was achieved thanks to goals from the much-coveted Nicolo Barella, while Cutrone and Chiesa were also on target. The result means Italy finished second behind Spain and must hope other results go in their favour if they are to progress to the semi-final stage.

And should they get there, there is no promise that Kean will be brought back into the squad. 

"I'll tell you if we go through," Di Biagio said when asked if the Juve star would be brought back in. 

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