Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco paid the price for choosing to play in Major League Soccer according to Italy coach Antonio Conte, who left the duo out of his preliminary 30-man squad for the European Championship.
Giovinco has impressed since moving to Toronto FC in February 2015. The former Juventus striker scored 22 goals and added 16 assists in his first season, and has a league-high eight goals and five assists in 12 games this campaign.
Pirlo joined New York City FC last July and has not been picked for the national team since September. The veteran midfielder had been a mainstay of the Italy team since his debut in 2002, making more than 100 appearances and helping the Azzurri win the World Cup in 2006.
“I spoke to Andrea,” Conte said on Tuesday. “I sent people to America for seven days to evaluate him and Sebastian. It’s clear that if you make such choices in football then at the end you might pay the consequences.
“We had people in Europe and abroad in order to get very clear ideas.”
Conte will name his final 23-man squad for the tournament on May 31.
“I have very few doubts, in my head I already have a precise plan,” he said. “There are two, or maximum three, places to decide, but my ideas are very clear and I am fairly calm on that front.”
Conte’s preparations for Euro 2016 have been hampered by injuries to key players such as Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti, who are out of the tournament.
Fellow midfielders Riccardo Montolivo and Thiago Motta were named in the squad but their medical conditions will be examined and a decision made in the next few days.
“I have tried to bring the best,” Conte said. “The choices were made based on what I believe and what we have done in the past few years.
“We will work this week and evaluate the conditions of Montolivo and Motta, it’s a blow that they’re not available. We have to be ready for every eventuality, the injuries to Verratti and Marchisio changed a few things but now there are others.”
Italy is in one of the toughest groups at Euro 2016. It opens against Belgium on June 13, before playing Sweden four days later and Ireland on June 22.
Italy plays Scotland on Sunday and Finland on June 6 in its two final friendlies before the tournament.