Leonardo Bonucci was on Friday left out of Luciano Spalletti’s first Italy squad which is set to face two crucial Euro 2024 qualifiers, as Marco Verratti and Jorginho were also dropped.
Bonucci was Italy captain under former coach Roberto Mancini following the retirement of Giorgio Chiellini last year but did not make the 29-man squad Spalletti picked for Group C matches with North Macedonia and Ukraine.
The 36-year-old has represented his country 121 times on the international stage and was key to the Azzurri’s triumph at the last Euro in 2021.
Bonucci signed for Union Berlin on Friday after being frozen out by Juventus.
Midfielders Jorginho and Verratti were also stars of the team which became national heroes by beating England in the Euro final at Wembley.
Replacing Bonucci is Lazio’s Nicolo Casale, whose teammate Mattia Zaccagni is back in the fold for the first time since March last year.
Spalletti took charge of the national team last month after Mancini resigned unexpectedly and was then hired by Saudi Arabia in a mega-money deal.
The 64-year-old Spalletti ended Napoli’s 33-year wait for the Serie A trophy last season before leaving his post and is tasked with reviving Italy, who failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Next weekend’s opponents North Macedonia dumped Italy out of the Qatar World Cup in the play-offs last year.
Italy are third in Group C with three points after a 2-0 win over Malta and a 2-1 loss to England, who are top with 12 points from four games.