Monday April 1 2019
Mancini: Balotelli will get chance

Italy CT Roberto Mancini has confirmed that Mario Balotelli will get his chance, ‘if he does well and works hard’ for Olympique Marseille.

Mancini’s reign with the Azzurri has so far been characterised by a focus on young players, but the former Inter boss made it clear the older heads still had a ‘crucial’ role in his plans.

“Bravery, talent and youth are three things that are important to us,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“The team are improving and we’re pleased that enthusiasm has returned to Italy. We hope to keep growing.

“We’re focusing on young players. We’ve already called up Tonali and he has a future with us, but we can’t take away other players from Di Biagio’s Under-21 team, who will be playing at the European Championship this summer.

“In all this we must also talk about the older faces, who are crucial for the group. Our target is qualification for Euro 2020, then we’ll see what happens with the 2022 World Cup, when other young players will come in.

“We’re watching them and they only need a couple of months to step up a level. Juve have many players, Kean has begun his journey and has to go step by step.

“When you’re young you want to play every game, but you need patience. Allegri is putting him on the right path.

“He must keep his feet on the ground and keep training hard. He’ll improve through fatigue and sweat. Bernardeschi can play anywhere in midfield, he’s improving and he’ll continue to do so.

“I think he can score a few more goals than he has done. We have a lot of quality in midfield and we’re lucky to have players like him.

“We did well against Portugal, the European champions, and we almost beat them. We’ll have simpler and more difficult matches, but if we stay on this path then we’ll enjoy great satisfaction.”

Mancini was then asked about Mario Balotelli, who has been left out of recent Italy squads, despite his run of goals for Marseille...

“I played Mario when he was 17,” he added.

“He’s a player like everyone else with incredible quality. He’s still quite young and it depends on him. If he does well and works hard, he’ll get his chance.

“Ultimately we’ll have to call 23 players and someone will have to stay out. For now we’re only thinking about the Euros, which we want to qualify for, and then we’ll see what happens.

“Italy’s a country where football is always at the centre, and it’s unlikely that we won’t have anyone to call up.

“Zaniolo suddenly broke out. No-one could have expected it. We’ll find others. After our upcoming qualifiers, the players who can help out during the U21 Euros will give us a hand with regards to the Euros.”

Finally, the ex-Sampdoria striker had some words of praise for Fabio Quagliarella after he became the Azzurri’s oldest-ever goalscorer.

“Quagliarella’s doing very well and he’s proof that if you always train well, you can achieve great results,” he concluded.