Roma boss Jose Mourinho says Australia is trying to “accelerate a process that should not be sped up” after offering teen sensation Cristian Volpato a spot in the Socceroos’ World Cup squad.
On Wednesday Volpato opened up on his decision to turn down a spot, insisting that any decision on his international future “risks being extremely premature”.
Socceroos boss Graham Arnold confirmed he had offered Volpato a spot in the 26-man squad bound for Qatar amid several phone calls between the pair in the days leading up to the announcement.
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Just hours before the announcement of the team, the Roma midfielder let Arnold know he would not be representing his nation of birth.
Volpato holds Italian eligibility and has represented the nation at youth level, but by playing for Australia at the World Cup could’ve become permanently tied to the green and gold.
His emerging stardom has seen him thrust into the mix to represent Italy, who did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup but clearly have a more successful international history.
Mourinho believes Arnold and the Socceroos were calling up the 18-year-old too early in his career and it is for the best that he will not head to Qatar.
Volpato turns down World Cup spot! | 01:06
“I think it is a personal decision and the club has not been involved,” Mourinho said in comments translated from Italian.
“As a coach, for example, I would refuse to call up a player, even a young one, in a situation like that.
“What I understand is that he is at the beginning of his career and that he’s growing with Roma by getting more minutes in consecutive matches. It’s not like last year where he played just one game against Verona and then he didn’t play again. I think he has now played four games in a row.
“He is in a development phase where I think he has to focus on building his future and not on certain decisions where maybe someone else wants to accelerate a process that should not be sped up.
Earlier on Wednesday Volpato took to Instagram to elaborate as to why he will be watching the showpiece event from afar.
“I’ve seen lots of speculation about decisions I have supposedly taken at international level: the truth is that I am still just at the start of my professional career and I am totally focused on continuing that process at Roma,” Volpato said.
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“Making any sort of rushed decision about my international future at this early stage risks being extremely premature.
“There will be plenty of time for me to take the decision that feels right for me, but right now I know my focus needs to be on continuing to work hard each and every day in order to continue improving as a player.
“For now, it’s time to focus on the game against Sassuolo!”
Although Volpato has shelved his international future for the time being, Arnold — who is extremely unlikely to remain in his post when the 2026 World Cup rolls around — holds out hope the teen may eventually don the green and gold down the line.
“You’ve got to understand that it’s a big decision for the kid, he made that decision and he declined our opportunity to come to play for Australia at the World Cup,” Arnold told Fox Sports News.
“It doesn’t mean that he won’t do that in the future.
“He’s a young kid, he’s just starting out in his journey of football. He’s a beautiful kid and I understand the tough decision he had to make and we move on.”