Monday February 4 2019
Mancini: Door open for Balotelli

Italy CT Roberto Mancini insists the door is still open for Mario Balotelli to return and has high hopes for Nicolo Zaniolo, Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone.

Balotelli has not figured for Italy since September but recently joined Olympique Marseille and scored on his debut for Rudi Garcia’s side, while Zaniolo, Chiesa and Cutrone have impressed for Roma, Fiorentina and Milan this season.

“Zaniolo’s improving game by game and doing well,” Mancini said at a Press conference, having organised a two-day training camp ahead of the Azzurri’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.

“Four months ago he didn’t play, but now he’s a starter for Roma: if you play for Roma in the Champions League, you can also play for the national team.

“I hope other young players follow a similar path. Inter? Bad runs happen during the season, but Inter are still third.

“The season is long and during times like these, you have to be strong inside and hang in there.

“Balotelli? We haven’t lost sight of anyone. Mario is part of the group, he knows that well and he also knows that it depends on him, not me.

“So far he’s played little, but if he does well in the next two months then maybe he could come back.

“Vialli? I only gave him my phone number. It’s the FIGC President’s idea but I’d be very happy with it.

“Head of delegation? It’s the President’s idea and I don’t know what they talked about, but I’d like him here. He’s someone I shared many beautiful moments with.

“Chiesa? I talked to his father Enrico and told him that Federico had to score more goals. We can see that [Enrico] told him.

“He runs a lot and with experience, he’ll learn to run less. Goals are part of his technical baggage. I hope he keeps going as he is.

“Quagliarella? He deserves a call-up, his age aside. There’s also Cutrone, who’s the future of the national team.”

Finally, the former Inter and Manchester City boss was asked about the national team’s objectives for 2019.

“Win all our matches and get back up the world rankings,” he concluded.