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Saturday March 17 2018
Should Balotelli return to Italy?

Mario Balotelli is expected to receive an Italy recall, but Richard Hall believes the Nice striker would be better off avoiding a Serie A return.

Whether Mario Balotelli should return to Italy and whether he should return to the Azzurri, are two totally different subject matters. The irony is that for one to succeed, the other perhaps should not happen.

Even as Mario told Rai Television that he is “mature and ready to return to Italy”, the alarm bells in the distance could be heard. At this moment in time there is a strong argument that his new-found maturity does warrant a place in the Italian squad, but the environment seems key to longevity.

The list of Balotelli’s alleged misdemeanours is as long as his actual ones and do not need discussing. His time in the South of France however, has seen him stay out of the papers (mostly) and in turn he has cut a new image.

Nice with its 1930s style beach, its beautiful promenades, the Napoleonic market and fountains, seem to have given Balotelli a new cultured persona. The backdrop is certainly one of the most mesmerising in the Mediterranean and has much more class to it than its cluttered neighbour Monaco. Here the Italian forward has been able to live quite a luxurious lifestyle, out of the way of the Italian media and meanwhile playing centre-stage at an up and coming club.

Balotelli’s form has been superb, finding the net 22 times in 30 competitive appearances, but what really stood out was his all-round performance and, dare one say it, his leadership. He certainly deserves to be called up to Luigi Di Biagio’s Italy squad after being overlooked by Gian Piero Ventura. It would certainly give the national team another creative threat and a different skill set that they don’t have already.

Balotelli confessed he has found himself in a good physical and mental place in France, much of it down to his partner and their son, Lion. "The secret is my house. In recent years I've had some physical problems which I don't have anymore. That has made my performances better, but my serenity is at home and not at work." With this in mind, the story seems concluded, doesn’t it? The wayward but talented striker goes to the South of France and returns to lead the line for the Azzurri in a Zen-like state?

Wrong. This is because Mina Raiola is intent on messing with Balotelli’s Qi. After all, that amount of goals certainly has awoken the agent and before Balotelli can rearrange his Bonsai Trees, Raiola has given the call ‘everyone to the Mina-copter’ and the transfer rumours have begun. Now Balotelli is starting to talk about returning to Serie A, but where would he go and would this be the right environment for him?

Looking at the options, even Balotelli said it would be hard to go back to Milan for a third time and with their front line lacking goals (other than Patrick Cutrone) the pressure would be on. Inter seems at first like it could be an option, but his outward love for the Rossoneri and the presence of Mauro Icardi and the infamous Curva Nord just look like an accident waiting to happen.

Juventus (Mario has said he fancies this) has already been dashed by Beppe Marotta. Whilst the director admitted Balo is a spectacular player, he has also said that he doesn’t fit the Bianconeri profile.

Perhaps the last bet is Naples, however, whether he would enjoy Maurizio Sarri’s rigorous training or if he could deal with the herculean pressure of playing in the San Paolo would certainly be a test of his character. That atmosphere and set-up is far removed from the quaint setting of Nice.

Few would argue that Balotelli hasn’t earned his call-up the to the Azzurri, but perhaps he should look at how he got to this place. Happiness and contentment certainly seem to translate into good performances when it comes to Mario. Who knows, perhaps there is a club in Italy that will give him the same feeling as he gets in France, but that is a gamble he may or may not be willing to take. Perhaps out of sight and out of mind is the best approach for Balotelli and the Italian media.

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Have your say...
I've read all posts and i'm sorry but no DiBaggio please! He's already a puppet! Buffon a legend but time to retire for the youth to have new leadership. he's to slow! Balo should be given a chance because i don't see any strikers doing anything.The team is soft in the midfield and no creativity going forward.At the back we look scared to overlap and attack. Coaching needs to be the leader and not the players. Get rid of old and players like Parolo and Candreva.
on the 29th March, 2018 at 11:06am
@saba
No, there is plenty of bad in the whole team we just don't need to add anymore. Keep Balotelli far away. Don't be sucked into the show that is Balotelli for every great goal there is 100 moments we don't need. We are more likely to see red card than goals. Lets not let the Balotelli mask the real problems, he will not save us and not being in team means he can't make us worse either. The fact people are calling for him to be called up really highlights what lack of talent we have.
on the 24th March, 2018 at 8:22pm
Just keep on slaughtering BALO, as if no one has done harm to the Nazionale except BALO! or is he the scapegoat? From 2014 until this moment, we have seen the likes of Immobile, Zaza, Eder, Beloti etc.. so I ask, what have they done to the Nazionale. Yes BALO has a bad temper but I would bet my life on it that if he was in the game against Sweden, he would of done something, at least he has the soul and heart and once he shows his worth there is no stopping him. Azzurri needs BALO.
on the 23rd March, 2018 at 4:13pm
The time to test him is now, when you have no plan in place and you're waiting for Carlo to collect his last pay cheque from Bayern before giving him a 5-6 year guaranteed contract to build something. He'll know how to control Balotelli, how to use Verratti properly and he won't ignore players that deserve a call up.

Give the man what he wants and move forward.
on the 23rd March, 2018 at 2:23am
"...Balo hasn’t matured too much he knocked up another model outta wedlock,just had a son,and dresses like Justin Bieber."

Excellent football points. Well done
on the 21st March, 2018 at 4:15pm
I would have given Balo a chance.I have seen him for Italy and he does give his best.Yes, I know he played badly against Costa Rica but overall, he is much better person.I like him and would have liked him in the squad.By the way Caldara is injured hence the reason in not being called up.Buffon would be great in the set up with the Italy squad but not as a player.Great senator but time to give a chance first to Perin and then to Donnaruma who has still a lot to learn.
on the 20th March, 2018 at 12:50pm
@joe
Italy didn’t score against Sweden because of one man,,,,Ventura, not the lack of balotelli,,, Ventura picked the wrong players and he left Insigne on the bench
Criminal manager
Forget balotelli
Time to progress
Move forward
Move on people
on the 20th March, 2018 at 12:10pm
Anyone on here saying racism is the reason this baffon has not been picked should be banned from writing on this blog at all. Unacceptable to direct every discussion to racism.
It has become impossible to have an opinion. Balotelli had countless chances enough is enough. We have someone on here comparing Balo with Verratti- 1 is a midfielder!
Those who think he has changed, actually watch a Nice game, his card count is still double figures. We wasted 4-5 years on Balotelli lets move forward
on the 19th March, 2018 at 10:43pm
If Palermo by some miracle make it back to Seria A, that's where he should go. Back to Sicily..
on the 19th March, 2018 at 5:03pm
DiBaggio " “No Balotelli? I’ve already explained that numbers are very clear for strikers, but they must be seasoned with certain performances.
His numbers are better than most the strikers your taking as are Giovinco. A strikers job is to put the ball in the net. Some of the selections made are a joke!!
on the 19th March, 2018 at 3:37pm
Dino Zoff lifted the World Cup when he was 41.

GIALUIGI BUFFON IS A LIVING LEGEND.

Give him is due!
He has earned it tenfold!
on the 19th March, 2018 at 3:25pm
Verratti a revelation in France - called up automatically. Verratti in Serie A - 0 appearances. Why isn't he slated? Verratti for nazionale - done bang nothing.

BRING BACK BALO!!!!!!!!!!
on the 19th March, 2018 at 3:17pm
RAZZISMO - Candreva does not have a league goal. We could not score over 180 minutes v. Sweden. How is he the solution? Disgraceful -
on the 19th March, 2018 at 3:12pm
2/2... There is no point in going out for the next 2 friendlies with the team that effectively failed to qualify in the first place.
I ask myself the question; is Buffon going to be around for the Euros? well no he wont so what's the point in him being in this set up?
The only players that should be used from this point onwards are the players that will take Italy in to qualifications as they need to time to gel as a team. If Buffon wants play time have a testimonial and say bye there.
on the 19th March, 2018 at 3:08pm
Whilst on the team selection we may as well cover that I see no point in Buffon being called up either. He retired so leave!
This is another needles drama. Its probably the only position of which we have options for, why are we going backwards?
We waste far to much time on players who are either hyped to be the best yet fail at every chance given or players that were once great but now showing age.
We will never move forward like this and is why we failed to qualify for the world cup.... 1/2
on the 19th March, 2018 at 3:01pm
@joe
Question 1. Yes we had problems scoring.
Question 2. NO he wont help us score more he would help us clock up red cards!
At international level football is about mind as well as talent. Defenders know he has issues controlling his temper and when things don't go his way he starts doing less and less, which for a player who already does little in a game it means he would literally do nothing. Keep him away. lets concentrate on cutrone and other young strikers we wasted enough time on Balo.
on the 19th March, 2018 at 1:33pm
Good God NO please don't start that again! It would be 10 steps backwards.
@maildini heir, you still talk about people taking the blame and this and that its boring, the Balotelli story is even more boring. He should not be part of the team, plain and simple.
He's doing great in France but this is France we are talking about not exactly the toughest league in the world to score in and he has clocked up a fair few red cards which is no surprise at all so not exactly grown up either.
on the 19th March, 2018 at 1:26pm
Simple question #1: In the two games against Sweden, did Italy have a problem with not being able to score enough goals?

Simple Question #2: Can Balotelli help Italy score more goals?
on the 18th March, 2018 at 6:07pm
Wtf, My 1st comment didn’t go through...but anyway Balo hasn’t matured too much he knocked up another model outta wedlock,just had a son,and dresses like Justin Bieber. If Italy need him,that means we’re in trouble...with or without him. Ventura was total loser anyway,but I’m shocked Gigi dint call Balo since we’re back to year zero. HAD we qualified maybe different story. simply Balo can’t be trusted and is loose canon. Prandelli gave him chances + he still acted childish. He should join Ghana.
on the 18th March, 2018 at 2:15pm
Just heard Di Biagio has included Ogbonna in the squad as cover for Chiellini due to his injury. Still no CALDARA, Is Di Biagio Ventura in disguise. Please Please anyone but Di Biagio. Did nothing with the under 21s, 2 tournaments (1 group stage and 1 semi final exit). Both tournaments we where more than capable of winning and should have done a lot better in. Ancelotti, Conte, Mancini, Ranieri all miles and miles better than Di Biagio.
on the 18th March, 2018 at 10:08am
Baselli and Benassi you could argue also deserved a call up based on this season. Daniel Caligiuri is a player I would like to be given an opportunity, he was called up by Conte but then was released before the matches. Anyone aware of the situation with Diawara and when he will be eligible?
on the 18th March, 2018 at 9:45am
My 27 if all fit would be:

Buffon, (just for these 2 games), Donnarumma, Perin.
Cragno or Meret in future.

Caldara, Rugani, Romagnoli, Chiellini, Bonucci, Florenzi, De Sciglio, Spinazzola, Masina.

Pellegrini, Jorginho, Verratti, Cristante, Bonaventura, Gagliardini, Marchisio, Barella.

Chiesa, Immobile, Balotelli, Verdi, Cutrone, Insigne, Giovinco.
on the 18th March, 2018 at 9:41am
If di biagio gets the job full time god help us. What the hell Balo has to do to get called up is beyond me. How can you call belotti above him, Belotti has done nothing all season. Its a disgrace. Also Caldara the best defender in serie a this season doesn't get called up yet Ferrari does, again incredible. Darmian, Parolo, Candreva should be nowhere near the squad. Buffons inclusion is fine as long as it is only for these 2 games as a farewell, any more than that is ridiculous.
on the 18th March, 2018 at 9:36am
@ Dan Balotelli was the only player from the 2014 squad who took personal responsibility for the failing at the World Cup. The senior players blamed everyone but themselves - Balotelli, Insigne, Prandelli, anyone but themselves. They are the disgrace. And those players delivered the disgrace that was Italy's failed qualification. And they can't blame Balotelli. But still no personal responsibility.
on the 18th March, 2018 at 3:54am
One more thing... I swear to god I would substitute any player who did not give 100% for all of the game every game - even if it meant playing with 8!

Players would soon learn honour the Italian jersey - how many times have we all watched the Azzurri play and been frustrated at the commitment.

On paper before the game I convince myself that we have a chance only to be left feeling deflated and cheated.
Ring any bells people???
on the 17th March, 2018 at 11:16pm
If Italy are still calling up players like Balotelli etc then we are in trouble again.

Give me the Italy CT job - I would not have any players over the age of 26 period and no past failures like Balotelli - we have a golden chance for 2 years to build up a brand new team with experience, youth, pace, passion, style and commitment let’s please not waste it and learn nothing from the debacle that was ikea.

Have we really learned nothing Italy - my god.
on the 17th March, 2018 at 11:09pm
No. Move on already. I also don't want to see De Rossi, Buffon, Candreva, Barzagli and Parolo. Italy needs to move on from these players.
on the 17th March, 2018 at 10:17pm
No.
on the 17th March, 2018 at 10:10pm
I disagree, strongly, with those that cite racism as the reason for Balotelli not being selected. He was awful both on & off the pitch between 2013-16. So lazy, static, & disinterested. What kind of message would you give if you selected such a work-shy & unprofessional player? That said, over the past 2 seasons he has shown a much better attitude & more quality on the pitch. On merit, he should have been included in the squad for these two friendlies.
on the 17th March, 2018 at 9:35pm
...without him. Tho I like commitment to leave him out,as we really need to find new young talent. So I say I’m fine with no Balo. might be different HAD Italy qualified ! + as much as I love Buffon,and bummed he was robbed the chance to end his career at WC 2018, and set a record/bow out in glory was wrong. But he retired twice from Azzurri already...it’s getting embarrassing now. Give a him farewell game and move on to Donnarumma. I’d like Sirigu too. I predict Italy get smacked 4-0 v Arg.
on the 17th March, 2018 at 9:06pm

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