Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco said he is happy to play in Major League Soccer and added that he will work hard to earn his spot back in the aftermath of being left off Italy's 30-man preliminary squad for Euro 2016.
On Tuesday, Italy manager Antonio Conte said that Giovinco and New York City FC midfielder Andrea Pirlo wouldn't be on the squad, and fired a shot across the bow of MLS in the process.
But Giovinco said he would use the omission as incentive to earn Conte's good graces again.
- Toronto FC (@torontofc) May 25, 2016
"I was upset. I need to keep improving so I can find my place back on the national team," Giovinco said. "I've said before, the league is continuing to grow and it's a beautiful league."
Conte took a dig at MLS when he revealed his 23-man squad for Euro 2016.
"We evaluated [Pirlo] and Giovinco, it's normal that if you choose to go and play [in MLS] then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms," said Conte. "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."
The exclusion of both Pirlo and Giovinco is somewhat surprising given the injury-hit nature of the Italy squad, which will be without Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti for the tournament. Riccardo Montolivo and Thiago Motta are in a race to get fit as well.
While Pirlo has struggled since joining NYCFC, Giovinco has been in sparkling form, notching 22 goals and 16 assists last season on his way to the league's MVP award, and eight goals and five assists so far in 2016.
Giovinco's choice of league also didn't prevent Conte from calling up the diminutive playmaker during qualifying either, with Giovinco helping Italy record a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Norway back in October.
MLS has declined to respond to Conte's remarks.
"Seba has done everything he can to show his worth," said Toronto coach Greg Vanney on Tuesday. "I am sad for him, but at the same time, we have him here with us and we stand to benefit from this.
"From the day Seba arrived he's been the best player in our league and he's proven his value both in our league and on the two occasions he was called to the Italian national team [for the Euro 2016 qualifiers] he more than proved his capability."