Cesare Prandelli has warned Mario Balotelli that he needs to ‘find a seriousness’ if he’s to become one of the greats.
The Coach was speaking to fifa.com with just four months to go until the World Cup, and has conceded that the Milan striker has ‘wasted energy on trivial things’.
“Mario Balotelli has the potential to be one of the greats,” he told the website.
“However, he needs to find a seriousness and a balance so that he can realise his potential. In recent years he has wasted lots of energy on trivial things.
“The great champions don’t do that. For them the only thing that matters is winning.
“We have a good relationship, and we both know how to get across what we want to say. All the coaches that have worked with Mario try to offer him something new, because they know the enormous potential he has.
“When he fulfils his potential he will make a huge difference to any team.”
The former Fiorentina went on to comment on veterans Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon.
“It’s not difficult to talk about Gigi. He’s the captain and an example to us all. He can both motivate the team and calm players down when they’re on edge, and he makes sure everyone appreciates just what it means to wear the Italian shirt.
“Players who are called up to the squad don’t need to listen to lectures: they can just watch and imitate Gigi.
“Pirlo’s also a great champion - just full of pure class and intelligence. He’s a player who makes things happen all over the pitch, and even though he doesn’t say much, he’s very charismatic.
“He’s a quiet leader. Veterans like Buffon and Pirlo have already won it all. They know how to lead a team to victory.
“And most of all, they feel real pride when they pull on the shirt and are genuinely grateful to have the opportunity to play for their country. These are essential qualities when you are trying to create a winning mentality.”
Prandelli concluded by remarking on the young prospects coming into contention, and Spain, who the Azzurri face in a friendly next month.
“We have a lot of exciting youngsters in the squad. As well as [Lorenzo] Insigne and [Alessandro] Florenzi, we have [Marco] Verratti, [Mattia] Destro, [Mattia] De Sciglio.
“There are five or six really promising players, who played in the UEFA European U-21 Final against Spain. Obviously you need dependability in the senior squad. But they have a lot of ability.
“We’ve played against Spain many times in recent years: in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, in the first game of EURO 2012 and then again in the final, in a friendly in Bari [in August 2011].
“And each game has been different to the others. But the semi-final of the Confederations Cup showed us that Spain aren’t unbeatable and have their weaknesses just like everybody else.
“In that game we worked out how to exploit those weaknesses. Having said that, obviously we’re talking about a team with great experience of winning, one with tremendous personality and ability. They will definitely be one of the main contenders at the World Cup.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition  - £10,000 to be won!