Tuesday October 9 2018
Giovinco’s call concerning

While Sebastian Giovinco’s call-up to the Italian national team is being celebrated across MLS, Marco D’Onofrio explains why it may be a worrying sign for fans of the Azzurri.

Sebastian Giovinco’s Toronto FC were officially eliminated from MLS play-off contention when they fell 2-1 at home against Canadian rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night. Just a year after setting a new league record for most points in a season and lifting the Philip F Anschutz trophy as MLS Cup champions, the Reds didn’t even qualify for the post-season in 2018.

They did receive some good news last week though, as Sebastian Giovinco was re-called to the Italian national team for the first time under Roberto Mancini. The diminutive striker has never shied away from speaking about his desire to represent the Azzurri – even if he is plying his trade across the Atlantic.

“I’m very happy to be back with the national team, very happy,” said Giovinco. “I was surprised, to be honest, but I’ve done a good job here in Toronto and it’s always a pleasure to get called in. I can’t wait to get there.”

Mancini must be commended for keeping an open mind and wanting to see Giovinco up close, because nobody should be excluded from the national team simply because they play in MLS.

“There are coaches in the world who follow our league and are progressive; they understand the quality of our league. Then there are people who are stuck in the world of old, thinking of what MLS was 15, 20 years ago,” said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Mancini clearly has seen what the top players in our league can do on the international stage. You can look at the performances at the World Cup this summer and past World Cups, the production in Major League Soccer translates to any pitch in the world in any competition.”

While it is terrific news for the player, his club, and the league, many have been left questioning, why now? Statistically, it is one of Giovinco’s worst seasons since arriving in Toronto and the Azzurri seem to have a plethora of players with similar characteristics to the Atomic Ant.

The call-up has rightfully been celebrated around MLS circles as a sign of the league’s continued growth, but it may be worrying for Italian fans.

After all, Giovinco will be 33-years-old by the time Euro 2020 rolls around and for a country that is looking to build for the future after missing out on the World Cup, it’s hard to imagine the TFC striker being a part of that. While he has worked hard for the past three years to get another chance on the international stage ,and deserves the opportunity, it just doesn’t bode well for the re-building process that the Azzurri are apparently under.

There is little doubt that Mancini is sending a message to the rest of the peninsula by proving that he is willing to leave big names off his squad in favour of those getting it done domestically. However, nobody expects Giovinco to be there over the likes of Mario Balotelli, Andrea Belotti, or Simone Verdi, when the games really matter. With national team managers getting so little time to practice with their squad, it just feels like Giovinco was called up more to prove a point than to prepare for the future which may ultimately be the biggest reason for concern for supporters of the Nazionale.

Have your say...

Chiesa Bernardeschi

jorginho verratti

Biraghi Chiellini Bonucci Florenzi

on the 14th October, 2018 at 12:05pm
I’d personally like to see Sirigu get a start. Just a little more experience and wiser and can command in the back with defenders ie Chiellini Bonucci Romagnoli cuz of his age. I know this may effect or crush young Donnarumma, but he’s gotta go this route to greatness now since he blew his chance at being wunder-kid phenom. Needs to get tougher and confident mentally. Hopefully Mancini doesn’t get discouraged by squad pool. They need months of training camp. Can’t keep tinkering. Need SOLIDITY.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 11:30pm

Florenzi Romagnoli Chiellini Biraghi
Bernardeschi Jorginho Barella (Allan) Chiesa
Politano Balotelli


Bonucci Romagnoli Chiellini
Florenzi Jorginho Barella (Allan) Bonaventura El Sharaway
Cutrone Balotelli

With these two teams and formations, Italy can move forward positively. Continuing with the 4-3-3 and the same personnel is the definition of madness. If only the FIGC could impose an Italian quota in Serie A we would have even more to choose from. 3/3
on the 10th October, 2018 at 10:42pm
Our team should look like this at all times, barring a few changes based on form or injuries.
GK: Donnarumma Sirigu Consigli
DEF: Calabria Bonucci Chiellini Biraghi Florenzi Acerbi Romagnoli D’Ambrosio
MID: Chiesa Verratti Jorginho Bonaventura Bernardeschi Barella Allan El Sharaway
FW: Politano Balotelli Cutrone Inglese

If you are sat on the bench and don’t get any game time (Perin, Rugani, Caldara, Orsolini) then you cannot be picked. Allan will need to get his passport, we need him. 2/3
on the 10th October, 2018 at 10:30pm
After tonight’s game please, no more Immobile and Insigne. They are out of their depth fo La Nazionale and should not step foot in Coverciano again. We can be competitive again but we must get the tactics right. No more 4-3-3. Even though we have a surplus of wingers they are all average. What we need are the grit and determination that a 4-42 or 3-5-2 can give us. 1/3
on the 10th October, 2018 at 10:12pm
Being small in football is difficult. Some players like Messi and Dyballa pull it off with what I can imagine is a lot of hard work but Giovinco is a player that has always been pushed off the ball by competent defenders and adds nothing to a good team. Fortunately for him, Italy is no longer a good team.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 8:22pm
Thank God he is back. Not sure what the author has been watching but Italy’s corner takers, free kick takers, and fantasistas are virtually non-existant on this squad. Giovinco should be welcomed back with open arms.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 3:05pm
The idea of Chiesa, Bernadeschi and Insigne makes for a volatile attack,...on paper at least! Yet, it's an attack that finally captures the imagination and instills some confidence of a positive outcome for the Azzurri. Against a weak Ukraine the Azzurri should have the personnel and ambition to win by two goals or more Such a result would only boost their self-belief going into the next match. If this can happen then dare I say watch out Poland.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 2:27pm
Italy have struggled to score and win games. Omitting talent because they do not play in Italy is a mistake. He deserves to play, particularly when the players picked aren't delivering. Prepare for today with an eye on tomorrow, otherwise tomorrow never comes.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 12:44pm
MLS is better than many of you realize over there... Giovinco can't hurt. We have watched him dazzle in many games here.. Can't be worse than that pile of zombies currently sporting the Azzurri shirt.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 10:26am
Long overdue in my opinion. Giovinco is a terrific player: yet another one that Italian football has wasted. I'll never forget his season with Parma, where he was outstanding. He was unfortunate at Juve to be paired up with extremely pragmatic Conte. He's still young & in good shape - Italy can get at least another 4 years out of him. His inclusion will give us greater quality in the final 3rd, an area where we have been abysmal, impotent.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 9:45am
MLS talent ... LOL

I would start Cutrone 10x before "atomic midget"
on the 10th October, 2018 at 9:32am
Look at the FIGC candidates and the fact that no past player like Albertini,Baggio,Maldini,Vialli,Baresi,etc.are running for presidency and the fact Angelli recommends Moratti,and there is no candidate against Garvina.Basically businessmen men not men of sports you will realize FIGC is corrupt.Look at all Italian teams they field maximum one italian!this is the problem corruption and lack of Italian talent...not recalling Giovinco !!!
on the 10th October, 2018 at 8:58am
Screw with the future, we want results and wins now!!
on the 10th October, 2018 at 5:08am
With veratti back that will free Jorginho up a bit as Poland man marked him. It's up to The CT to come up with a good game plan even against Ukraine and put the players we have , which are talented as we see week to week in serie a , in the position to succeed. Giovinco has same work rate as Giacherri did when conte was coach. They work for the team. Would love to see Insigne have a big game and start to be a leader as he has s
Done with Napoli.Forza Azzurri!!!
on the 10th October, 2018 at 4:31am
I'm glad Giovinco got called. Not the right time but I really think his talent been ignored. Personally happy to see him in the Azzurri for one last time but I agree with most points in the comments but, if he's in form age won't matter.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 2:18am
This current Italy squad lacks creativity. Giovinco will no doubt give spark to this team thats in desperate need.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 12:18am
look at the records of the current Italian crop of strikers. 33 app 7 goals goal ratio of 0.21; Lorenzo insigne 27 app 4goals goal ratio of 0.15; 36 games 14goals goal ratio 0.39; 19 games 5 goals goal ratio 0.26. bernardeshi 14app 1 goal goal ratio 0.07. a prolific striker has a goal ratio above 0.30 and really and truly that is only Balotelli.& no one knows where his head is. we have seen in the last int'ls Italy struggling for creativity. giovinco fits the bill. when is 33 old? madness
on the 9th October, 2018 at 11:31pm
Bang on!! Giovinco is great but he isn't the future and everyone knows it. He should have been called 3 years ago by Ventura but now we need to focus on the future. Does anybody really care about the Nations League??
on the 9th October, 2018 at 8:33pm
What is far more concerning is players like giovinco and even younger players now not finding a role for themselves in serie a going aboard to play i really hope italian clubs find a role and keep a hold of some of young italian coming through now.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 7:32pm
Really the only concern here is that giovinco will be too old for the competition even though a winning italy national team in 2006 had the likes of totti del piero inzaghi who were all 30 or over at the time obviously he is isn't on their level but come on there is always room for a talent over 30 year old in the italy team.

What was far more concerning was italy having to put with parolo eder pelle and co considering their age and their quality.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 7:25pm
He deserves the call. He earned it.

Far worse players have been called (not saying he's bad).

You ask "why now?" Well why not? Mancini has just got the job and is still figuring things out. Some people are so quick to dive into panic mode.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 7:18pm
its all over for italy there never be another good italian team the likes of pirlo, roberto baggio, zola, maldini, etc etc R.I.P
on the 9th October, 2018 at 5:18pm
italia needs to score, so how about giovinco! hmm, why not? who's there anyhow? azzurri used to have real strikers but now not much! azzurri needs to score, so will giovinco help? let's see after all what other options azzurri has? perhaps insigne & giovinco will produce something to remind us of the good old days, perhaps not! whatever whoever azzurri needs to score! where are the italian scorers where are the scores?
on the 9th October, 2018 at 4:51pm
Pepe was 33 when he played an integral part of Portugals 2016 Euro win. Not comparing the two players, and not saying Gio can play that role, but you can't discount a player his age making a very positive impact for his club at the international level.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 3:50pm
Italy need their supporters to keep their mouth shut. You talk too much and that's not helping Mancini at all. Why don't you give them time to figure out what's best for Azzuri? Keyboard warriors who never play in or coaching a professional team, you need to relax and keep your mouth shut, sit down and enjoy the game.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 3:36pm
Your headline out on the page, "Italy Call Lasagna" says it all, really.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 2:35pm
Years ago I mocked England fans when their national team called up Jermane Defoe from TFC.

It's an embarrassment to have any players in the nazionale playing in MLS. TFC in particular had a horrible year and Giovinco hasn't been the best player in the MLS in two seasons.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 2:12pm
I see both sides of the argument but is a 33 year old Giovinco (if part of the Euro 2020 squad and if we get there) really a problem? Our famous BBC back line weren't exactly young, granted we needed to freshen it up. Pirlo was constantly performing well into his 30's. Look at Glenn Murray for Brighton, Ibrahimovic's season at Man.Utd. If he can help to add some creativity then who cares what league he plays in. Give him a chance and let's see.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 2:11pm
This isn't a well reasoned article. You say you're concerned but only spend the last two paragraphs explaining why, and even then all you really say is "...nobody expects Giovinco to be there over the likes of Mario Balotelli, Andrea Belotti...", which isn't really an explanation.

Quite frankly, it wouldn't surprise me if he performs better than those players. And as long as he does, does it really matter if he's 33? Last I checked, 33 year olds are doing quite well.
on the 9th October, 2018 at 1:47pm

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