Barella: Give World Cup spots to Euros and Copa America winners

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Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella claims the Azzurri should have been at the World Cup “by right” after being crowned European champions.

A stunning 1-0 defeat to North Macedonia in a play-off qualification game in March eliminated Italy, who were almost totally dominant but conceded the game’s only goal in second-half stoppage time.

It meant four-time winners Italy have failed to qualify for two consecutive World Cups, unprecedented in their history, and Inter star Barella has felt unable to watch the tournament due to his gripe that he should be involved.

In fact, he suggested the latest winners of the European and South American championships should always be granted automatic places at the World Cup. Such a move would be unlikely to go down well with confederations from other continents, unless they were also cut in on such an arrangement.

Italy, who won the delayed Euro 2020 finals last year, remain devastated by their World Cup qualifying stumble.

“I haven’t seen half a match of the World Cup yet, I can’t understand the feeling I feel,” Barella said.

“They say that the pitch is always right, but for me in this case it gave an unfair response. Today it was our turn, maybe tomorrow it will be the turn of others: whoever wins a European Championship or a Copa America deserves to go to a World Cup by right.”

Barella’s suggestion is similar to one from Roberto Mancini, the Italy head coach, last month. Mancini also said the champions of every continent should be awarded an automatic spot at the World Cup.

Barella hopes to go to the 2026 tournament, which will be co-hosted by Mexico, Canada and the United States, and can see him remaining an Inter player through to that time.

A host of teams, including Chelsea and Liverpool from the Premier League, have been linked as possible suitors for Barella, who has a contract with Inter that runs through to 2026.

“We have to get there first,” he said of the next World Cup, “but yeah, I see myself on the pitch in 2026 still as an Inter player.”

Whether Milan Skriniar remains at Inter for so long must be in major doubt.

Paris Saint-Germain wanted him in the last transfer window and may come back in January, and the 27-year-old Slovakian centre-back is due to lapse out of contract at the end of the season.

Barella will let Skriniar make his own decisions about the future, insisting others should not play any part.

“I will never allow myself to give him advice,” Barella said. “Everyone makes their choices. Then, at the end of his career, we will see if they were right or wrong. I hope he stays because in addition to being incredibly strong, he is a brother.”



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