Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested Italy are falling behind in international football due to an inability to find a new generation of footballers and a failing Serie A system.
Italy lifted the Euro 2020 title last July with a penalty shoot-out victory over England in the final, the Azzurri's first European Championship since 1968, but followed that up with failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.
A play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March condemned Italy to a second successive absence from the global competition, having also missed out on qualification for Russia 2018.
Roberto Mancini and the Italian football system were met with widespread criticism for their reluctance to utilise younger players, instead relying on the experience of the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Ciro Immobile.
There were also suggestions the problems were more deep-rooted in the Italian game, with a lack of opportunities granted for homegrown talents in Serie A that failed to establish a clear path to the national team.
Ancelotti, who featured for Italy as a player and has managed five Italian clubs, echoed those sentiments as he reflected on the improvements needed in his home country.
"I believe that Italian football must seek an improvement in the spectacle it offers," Ancelotti said at a forum to discuss Italian football, as quoted by Tuttomercatoweb. "It is not attractive for several reasons.
"There is the technical aspect, in the sense that there is a lack of figures to look up to in a generation of footballers that has had difficulty producing great champions after the 2006 World Cup, where there were the likes of [Francesco] Totti, [Alessandro] Del Piero, [Andrea] Pirlo, [Gennaro] Gattuso.
"Italy struggled to find a generation of new talents. It is true that the unexpected success at the European Championships arrived, but the individual quality of Italian players at the moment is not that of 15 years ago."
As for how Italy can improve, Ancelotti pointed towards the development opportunities in Serie A as a vital factor.
"In my opinion, right now young people are struggling to find chances in Serie A," he added. "Especially with the new rules, which benefit foreign players and do not allow Italians the time they need.
"In 2019 there was a youth final between Italy and Portugal: the Portuguese players included the likes of [Rafael] Leao, now they play in the top Portuguese or English leagues.
"If you look at the squad, the Italian players are much less active."
Italy will look to get back on track when they face South American champions Argentina in a match billed 'Finalissima' at Wembley on June 1.