Italy CT Roberto Mancini insists ‘I’ve done my best’ for Mario Balotelli, who has ‘given me very little’, and ‘I’ll call up Fabio Quagliarella if he keeps scoring’.
Mancini brought Balotelli back into the Italy fold at the start of his reign, but the Nice striker has been dropped in recent months after disappointing on and off the field, while Quagliarella’s run of goals has led to calls for his return.
“I’m working with the future in mind,” Mancini told Corriere dello Sport.
“I’m looking at young players, studying them, preparing them and letting them play. I think the last games have recreated a beautiful harmony between the team and Italian people after an unbearable disappointment. Watching the World Cup without us was tough.
“I’m happy and I think I’ve built a good, special and fun group, hot on the trail of the one that lived through some magical nights in 1990.
“I’ve done my best for him and I always hope something good happens to him. He’ll only return to the national team if he deserves it.
“As a young lad he gave me so much, both at Inter and in Manchester, but he’s given me very little in recent months.
“Still, he’s 28 and he has time if he wants. The Euros and World Cup should be fatal attractions for him.
“The European qualifiers begin in March. If we’re in trouble and he keeps scoring one or two goals per game like he is now then I’ll call him up.
“However, he must know that he won’t be a part of our future due to his age. It’s a principle that applies to everyone.
“Coaching Juventus? In life you can never say never, but this isn’t the moment to dream: Italy, for me, are a point of arrival.”