Antonio Conte reveals what it will take for Mario Balotelli to earn an Italy recall…
Mario Balotelli’s exclusion from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ first-team plans is proving extremely frustrating for Italy boss Antonio Conte, who won’t select him until the 24-year-old proves himself at club level.
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The former Manchester City and AC Milan striker has not featured for his country since last summer, and was left out of the squad for the recent games against Bulgaria and England.
Conte, who was quoted by the Evening Standard, said: “I am keeping an eye on everything the [Premier] League offers. I went to see Southampton play Liverpool and only [Graziano] Pelle played, as Balotelli and Fabio Borini were on the bench.
“The doors are open to everyone who shows during their displays that they know what the Italy jersey represents. I hope Balotelli can give Liverpool significant support and play more often.
“If this should happen, the doors are open for the national team. We need these players to send us important messages and we will be ready to receive them.”
Balotelli has featured 20 times for Liverpool so far this season, scoring four times. However, only one of those goals has come in the Premier League, a competition which has seen him start just eight times.
He has generally disappointed since his £16m summer move from Milan, and has failed to live up to his reputation, despite netting against the Three Lions in Brazil, and helping guide his country to the final of Euro 2012.
He’ll no doubt be hoping to play some part in Saturday’s game against Arsenal, as we look to close the gap on the top four places. Daniel Sturridge injured himself last time out, but in all likelihood, based on Rodgers’ selections so far this term, Raheem Sterling will start up top rather than the maverick Italian.