West Ham star Angelo Ogbonna has admitted he was left "amazed and bitter" after being snubbed for Italy's European Championship squad by Roberto Mancini.
Ogbonna has established himself as one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League since moving to West Ham from Juventus in 2015.
The 33-year-old had arguably his best season yet in 2020-21 as he helped the Hammers secure a top-six finish, but still missed out on a place in Mancini's 33-man preliminary line-up for Euro 2020.
What's been said?
Ogbonna's frustration over his omission was magnified after seeing Chelsea duo Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri added to the Italy squad on Sunday.
"We fought until the end for the Champions League qualification with Jorginho and Palmieri's Chelsea, who finished higher, but we showed that we can beat any team."
Ogbonna added: "In sport, meritocracy must prevail, based on the championship in which one plays, on the statistics, on the value of the player.
"And this time, in my opinion, it did not prevail."
Ogbonna's praise for Jorginho
Ogbonna did, however, go on to hail Jorginho for his achievements at Chelsea this season, having seen his international colleague become a Champions League winner.
The former Juve enforcer thinks the midfielder's presence will be crucial for Italy as they chase down their first international title since the 2006 World Cup.
"He has always been underestimated, perhaps because of his stature, but he has always made a difference and with [Maurizio] Sarri he evolved, he has also become the fulcrum at Chelsea," said Ogbonna.
"The Premier League has changed its skin thanks to the many foreign coaches: it is more tactical, more studied. And in this Jorginho has changed many scenarios.
"For the national team he is fundamental, for his personality and for his ability to read the timing of the match, especially when the rhythms get up."
Who has been cut from the Italy squad?
Mancini has trimmed his preliminary group down to 28, but will have to drop another two players on Tuesday - which marks the deadline for final squad submissions.
Everton striker Moise Kean, who took in a successful loan spell at Paris Saint-Germain last term, has been sent home despite featuring in a 7-0 friendly victory over San Marino on Friday, along with Lazio midfielder Manuel Lazzari.
Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno, Fiorentina duo Cristiano Biraghi and Gaetano Castrovilli, Frieburg's Vincenzo Grifo and Sassuolo star Giacomo Raspadori have also been sacrificed after originally making the preliminary 33.