Sebastian Giovinco has been left out of the Italy squad ahead of the 2016 European tournament. Of course, most US soccer fans know this since Major League Soccer has been up in arms over his omission, or at least Antonio Conte’s comments.
Giovinco played a small role, if any, in Italy’s qualification for this summer’s finals. Yes, he has been brilliant at Toronto, scoring 57% of their goals in 2016. However, Giovinco hasn’t played against the same level of talent as others selected in Conte’s provisional 30-man squad.
As James Horncastle pointed out in a recent article, the likes of Emanuele Giaccherini and Ciro Immobile both returned to Italy as their chances of making the squad waned. After returning, both have been selected for the provisional roster until Conte culls the castoffs.
The level of competition can’t be overlook in MLS. Tactics, skills and development are far behind those of Europe. Giovinco is the best player in the league, but he would be unable to duplicate his current form for top-tier teams in Europe. Although many will argue that point; Simon Borg, Landon Donovan or random fans, it can’t be denied that MLS’s talent level isn’t equal to the top leagues in Europe. Despite the level improving, it isn’t close right now.
Italian Andrea Pirlo made a great point this week in an interview in which he spoke about MLS’s level of play.
“They pick them and they train them in much more than just running,” Pirlo stated. “They train them in stopping the ball. Here that doesn’t happen.
“So when a young man becomes a professional in the United States he still has some gaps that need to be filled when playing on the field”
Giovinco had a great two-year spell at Parma from 2010-11, during a time when Parma finished 12th and 8th, respectively. His time at Juventus, before and after Parma, were less than stellar. The competition amongst places in Turin kept him out of the Juventus squad. That type of competition and skill is what Giovinco would face at the Euros, if he got into the Azzurriside.
The biggest problem for MLS is Conte’s criticism of the league will hurt player recruitment this summer. The league needs more players of Giovinco’s ilk: skillful, competitive and most importantly in his prime. The league needs less 30-something designated players and more players like Giovinco. If players are thinking about joining MLS, Conte’s omission of the Italian is another reminder that they must join at their own risk.
Giovinco’s nationality is his biggest drawback. Italy is a top-tier nation, regardless of their recent World Cup performance. Italy has the ability to pull players from the top leagues in Europe who have played against some of the best players in the world during the season. Giovinco can’t say he has done the same, and as much as it is a shame he won’t be in France, there’s no denying he hasn’t faced the same level of as the other players in the squad.
Italy’s 30-man squad looks quite strong. Stephan El Shaarawy was brilliant from January after moving to Roma. Meanwhile, Inter Milan’s Eder was brilliant before moving to the Nerazzurri in January. However, both can play similar roles to Giovinco and both have played in Serie A this year.
Yes, the forward area is thin for Italy, but a tactical re-work by Conte could be done. The Italian has plenty of weapons at his disposal that can play a similar role whether it be Giacomo Bonaventura or Antonio Candreva to fill any void currently left in the team.
Giovinco’s omission can go one of two ways this summer. Italy can fail miserably and Giovinco’s snub will look more ridiculous than it does now. However, if Italy succeed, Giovinco’s omission will be forgotten, and MLS will carry on like before.
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