Christian Abbiati told Milan teammate Mario Balotelli he can be as good as Zlatan Ibrahimovic – “if he gives 100 per cent.”
The veteran goalkeeper starts what is probably his last season as a professional and is under the tutelage of his former teammate Pippo Inzaghi.
“Inzaghi’s enthusiasm is extraordinary and utterly contagious,” Abbiati told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The team follows him en masse. If everyone maintains the same enthusiasm as him, then we’ll do very well. I’ve known him a long time, so am well aware of how maniacal he is in his work.
“Pippo is a credible figure when setting down the rules, because he has always followed them too. Rules are to be respected by everyone, otherwise you’ll be sent to the stands.”
There have been concerns as to how Balotelli will fit into the new set-up and Abbiati joined the chorus of Milan and Italy teammates urging him to put more effort in.
“After such a negative World Cup for the whole Italy squad, I’m certain something will snap within him and he’ll want to prove he is not the player we saw in Brazil.
“He’s a lovely guy who occasionally gets into trouble, but if he gives 100 per cent then there are no problems. Plus who better to help guide him than Pippo, seeing as he too was a striker?
“For example, Ibrahimovic’s strength is very simple: he gives 100 per cent in every training session and that hard work pays off. Mario has to understand that. The moment he does realise it, you’ll see he can be as good as Ibra.”