Tuesday July 19 2016
Ventura: ‘Balotelli at a crossroads’

Giampiero Ventura will consider Mario Balotelli for Italy but warns the striker is “at a crossroads”.

The Liverpool striker was a key man under Cesare Prandelli, but failed to win a single cap under Antonio Conte, and was only called-up once.

With Ventura having taken over the role as Azzurri CT, he was asked whether his stance on Super Mario would be different.

“He’s exactly the same as everyone else,” Ventura replied calmly.

“He has to A) play and B) be professional. He’s talked about a lot, from the point of view of character he may leave something to be desired.

“When you consider the fact he didn’t play at Milan, that Liverpool have abandoned him, it’s clear that he’s at a crossroads.

“Whenever Balotelli has shown that he wants to be a footballer, he has shown absolute quality. There’s no prejudice, but it comes down to what happens on the pitch.”

Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco were left out of the Euro 2016 squad after moving to Major League Soccer, will Graziano Pellè suffer the same fate after joining Shandong Luneng?

“That remains to be seen. Players need to have a desire to win, going to a lesser League doesn’t help in that regard.

“So 50 per cent is China, the rest is the big wages. A player has to be strong psychologically and temperamentally.

“When [Alessandro] Diamanti went to China he lost the national team, despite his quality. The 23 who went to the Euros deserve to make their case because of what they did there. Then there will be many others, because football moves on.

“Pellè, missed penalty aside, had a good Euros. Let’s see.

“It’s not like I’ll only speak with those 23, I’ll start with them but then we’ll have a look at others. I think [Claudio] Marchisio and [Marco] Verratti are important, but also [Mattia] Perin and [Gianluigi] Donnarumma.”

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