Tuesday October 4 2016
Bonucci: ‘Balotelli is maturing’

Leonardo Bonucci is confident Mario Balotelli “is starting to think like an adult” and hopes he can return to the Italy squad.

The striker has been in sensation form since moving to Nice, but CT Giampiero Ventura felt he hadn’t shown enough to warrant an Azzurri return, and Balotelli agreed.

“The doors of the national team are open to everyone,” Bonucci said in today’s Press conference.

“He’s now beginning to think like an adult, and what he said - in my eyes - shows a great maturation. To say that he didn’t deserve it and that he only wants to come back at the top shows humility on Balotelli’s part.

“If it’s like that he’ll be an added value for anyone. The Balotelli who messes around is no use to himself or anyone else, I gave him that advice when we were younger.

“His qualities are endless, but what he was lacking was the awareness that certain values like sacrifice and humility can take you higher, returning him to the national team and making him an important player in this squad.

“Am I confident? I hope so, for his sake. Ever since we were little I’ve taken Mario under my wing, I was the first to cheer for him, to shut his mouth…

“He’s always been a person I’ve really liked, if he knows how to behave himself then I don’t see why he shouldn’t be in the national team. I hope that Nice empowers him.”

Bonucci was also asked about Milan youngster Alessio Romagnoli, who could make his Italy debut against Spain or Macedonia.

“I’ve always said that he, along with [Daniele] Rugani, will be the future foundation of the national team. We’ll help him to understand the little things we’ve been doing in a back-three for years.”

Ventura replaced Antonio Conte as CT after Euro 2016, and the centre-back was asked about the differences between the two men.

“There aren’t many,” Bonucci noted.

“Some movements. Many games, if not most, are prepared based on the shortcomings of the other team.

“They’re very similar, perhaps the former [Conte] is more meticulous and motivational, but that doesn’t mean there’s a right or wrong way.

“I like it when there are ideas of how to play and then they’re put into practice by the squad.”

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