Mario Balotelli wants Roberto Mancini as the new Italy Coach, discussed his a future in Serie A and put himself “on the same level as Neymar and Paulo Dybala.”
Everyone assumed SuperMario would be called back to international duty under Gigi Di Biagio after scoring 14 goals in 21 Ligue 1 games and six in seven Europa League matches.
“I never spoke to anyone from the Nazionale. It was always you journalists who assumed my call-up was a done deal,” Balo told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek from his villa in Nice. “I, frankly, thought that I had deserved a call.”
Who would SuperMario favour for the Italy job on a permanent basis?
“Antonio Conte and Claudio Ranieri have charisma, but Roberto Mancini is my football ‘father’ and I’d be happy if he was chosen. I say that for him, not for me...”
He has been in France for two years now and a return to Serie A is far from certain.
“When I talk about Italy, I say that I miss my hometown of Brescia, my mother, my friends, my brother Enock and the Nazionale… I never said that I would return to Italy at club level.
“I would go to Roma for the club, the players and the fans. I don’t think anyone would complain if I went to Roma.”
Juventus director Beppe Marotta said recently that Balo’s profile didn’t fit the Turin giants.
“It seems strange, because I only talked to him once, when Juve wanted me. And I was the one who turned it down. I wouldn’t go back to Milan right now. Nothing against the fans, as I am crazy about them, but the club kicked me out in a nasty way, as if I was of no use there and just kind of wandered in.
“I’d only go back if Adriano Galliani returned, but seeing as Galliani won’t return… I don’t think Napoli have ever made an offer for me, as President Aurelio De Laurentiis doesn’t like me very much.
“I’d go back to Inter because it’s a big club with fantastic fans, but I’d probably say no because everyone knows now that I am a Milan supporter, so it’d cause problems.”
Balo was asked if he was right now closer to Italian, French or English football?
“Let’s just say I live on the borders! The important thing is that I’m in good shape now, as when I’m in good shape, I can make the difference anywhere.
“Coming to Nice was risky, because it was a normal team with some good players. (Agent) Mino Raiola warned me that if I had more injury problems after Liverpool and Milan, it’d be difficult to get back to the top. But I felt good and it went well.
“I’ve changed my training routine and also eliminated pizza, pasta with cream and prosciutto from my diet.”
Raiola recently said that Balotelli is among the 10 best players in the world and is worth €100m.
“I don’t think anyone is worth €100m. For the last four years, all the big transfers have been based on crazy figures. Mino wanted to say that some players were bought for that sum, so I’m on roughly the same level as them.
“Whoever gets me will have a bargain, because my contract with Nice expires in June, so I’ll be a free agent! But if I were to have a price-tag, it’d be the highest it’s ever been, because my goals speak for me.
“I do think I’m in the top 10 in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi are on a different level to everyone else, but I could be in there with Neymar, Antoine Griezmann and Paulo Dybala. They are only ahead because they’ve won more. Dybala has been in two Champions League Finals and I haven’t.”
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