Monday August 19 2019
Balotelli: 'Italy depends on me, now...'

Mario Balotelli assures he is ready to be “a leader” at Brescia and regain his Italy place. “Before Roberto Mancini, it didn’t depend on me.”

The 29-year-old signed a multi-year contract with his hometown club Brescia, who just earned promotion to Serie A.

“I am truly, truly happy,” he grinned on Sky Sport Italia after spells at Nice and Olympique Marseille.

“There were negotiations with my agent, he told me about it and I was immediately enthusiastic about the idea. I had already told him, absolutely go ahead.

“This was a choice made from the heart. My Mother was crying with happiness to see her son play in the jersey of the hometown club of her husband, but also just to have me back home and close by after all these years.

“I’ve always received affection from the people in Brescia, but over the last few days it’s been extraordinary. I thank them for that.

“I am fired up because I want to play. I think I proved over the last few years in France what I can do and being here in Brescia gives me an extra boost.

“I scored a lot of goals in France and it was unlucky that I got this four-match ban, but I’ll use it as a positive, giving me the chance to catch up on tactics and fitness training. I know Brescia have a good team and I hope they’ll make me even better.”

Balotelli was asked if he was finally being treated as a leader?

“There are many types of leaders, those who talk, who set the example or who score goals. As you mature, you have more of an influence, especially on the younger players. I think I’ve been a leader in one way or another from Nice onwards.

“Perhaps if the media bothered to ask my teammates in the dressing room what I am like in there and not assume, they’d find nobody hates me.”

Turning down Flamengo was also an opportunity to play in Serie A and put himself in the spotlight for Italy Coach Roberto Mancini in the build-up to Euro 2020.

“Brescia is my hometown, I cannot compare it to any other club in the world. I also, naturally, want to get back into the Italy squad and it’s important to be here.

“Before Mancini, unfortunately, it did not depend on me. Now with Mancini in charge, it does depend on me. That was not necessarily the case with the Coaches who were there before.”

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