Mario Balotelli has assured Manchester City and Italy that he aims to improve his on-pitch behaviour following his red card against Arsenal.
During an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday, the controversial striker admitted that he can’t afford to penalise his team by getting needlessly sent off.
“I have to improve as a footballer – especially the way I behave on the pitch, but also from a tactical point of view,” he stated.
“I used to only think of myself before, but after the red card against Arsenal I understood how important it is to worry about your teammates. I can’t leave them down to 10 men.”
Balotelli has been punished for his on-field misdemeanours this season by being omitted from the Italy squad by boss Cesare Prandelli.
“I’ve spoken to Prandelli,” he added. “He reminded me that I have to respect the code of ethics and I reassured him about a few things.
“For me the national team is the most important. It comes before the club side you play for. I hope to be at the European Championships.
“I’ve always been tied to the Azzurri shirt, ever since the youth days. The fans give me the enthusiasm, even in England all of the Italians that I meet encourage me. That fires me up and I don’t want to disappoint them.”
Balotelli was inevitably asked about his future amidst claims that he is wanted by both Milan clubs ahead of next season.
“I thank Inter President Massimo Moratti for his admiration, but I’m at Manchester City and I don’t see any other possibilities.
“My experience in the Premier League is of great use to me, under all aspects. When I was at Inter I used to call my mum to resolve every little problem, here I have to deal with things on my own.”
Balotelli also surprisingly hailed teammate Carlos Tevez, a player who has had his own problems this season.
“My point of reference is Tevez,” he added. “When I arrived here I used to train to have fun. From him I have understood that you have to give it your best on a daily basis.
“Carlitos is very special. Under this aspect, let us say he is similar to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”