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MLS MVP And Italian Legend Not Taken To Euro Championships Because They Play In MLS

Italy have announced their provisional squad for Euro 2016, and it’s one of the worst in recent memory. Gone are Antonio Di Natale, Mario Balotelli, Sebastian Giovinco, and Andrea Pirlo. Italy’s staunch defense is still there, but the class of their attack appears to be completely absent. 

Now, one of those four aforementioned players, Di Nitale, retired. Another, Mario Balotelli, is going through what can only be described as a lost period in his career. The other two, Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco, are still playing, and are there are some who would argue that they could still improve what is in essence and underwhelming Italy team, but not the one person who matters.

Italy head coach Antonio Conte does not believes Pirlo and Giovinco can help his team. Conte and his fellow national team staff spoke to Pirlo and thoroughly examined both players before coming to this conclusion, and Conte hinted at a recent press conference that Pirlo and Giovinco being left off Italy’s roster is in part a consequence of them playing in MLS. 

“I spoke to Andrea, I needed to hear from him and we sent people to the US,” said Conte. 

“However, we’ve made other choices and you have to accept them and deal with the consequences. Nothing was left to chance.”

“We evaluated him and Giovinco, it’s normal that if you choose to go and play [in MLS] then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms.

“We evaluated them technically, we didn’t leave anything to chance. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong, we went everywhere to have clear and precise ideas.

“I picked the 30 who I think will give me the most guarantees.”

This has to be painful for both Pirlo and Giovinco. Pirlo was the heart and soul of Italy at Euro 2012, when he enjoyed a renaissance that had media outlets around the world hailing his abilities. He is now 37, and faced with the reality that his country, for whom he loves playing for so much, no longer wants him.

Giovinco, for his part, is undergoing a bit of a renaissance himself at the moment. He was named MLS MVP last season after he torched the league and looked like far and away the most talented player in the US. He is at the peak of his abilities, but because he plays in MLS that peak is reduced in Antonio Conte’s eyes: a reasonable point of view, but one that surely must feel cold and overly pragmatic to Giovinco.  

Conte’s words on Giovinco, Pirlo, and MLS come days after Pirlo criticized MLS for having too much running and not enough play. Then it seemed as if he was lamenting how little room technical ability has to shine, but after Conte’s decision one has to wonder if it any amount of shine in MLS could have stood out in Conte’s eyes.

Follow me on Twitter: @yetly

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