Mario’s back

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

MARIO BALOTELLI said he plans an ex­plo­sive re­turn to the Italy na­tional team in an in­ter­view in which he also hit out at for­mer clubs Liver­pool and AC Mi­lan. Balotelli has not played for Italy since de­feat to Uruguay in the fi­nal group match of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil sent the Az­zurri crash­ing out of the tour­na­ment at the first hur­dle. The 26-year-old was not se­lected for Italy’s up­com­ing 2018 World Cup qual­i­fiers at home to Spain and away in Mace­do­nia, but on cur­rent form a re­turn to Gi­ampiero Ven­tura’s squad can­not be far away. “It was right not to se­lect me be­cause I didn’t de­serve it,” Balotelli told Sky Sport Italia. “It’s bet­ter for Ven­tura to not se­lect me this time around be­cause when I re­turn, I want to be at my best.”1 Known as one of the more con­tro­ver­sial foot­ballers of the past decade, Bal­lotelli ap­pears to have turned over a new leaf. Af­ter a tor­rid end to a con­tro­ver­sial three­year spell at Manch­ester City, Balotelli joined AC Mi­lan in Jan­uary 2013 be­fore mov­ing to Liver­pool in 2014. Balotelli never set­tled at An­field and re­turned to Mi­lan on loan last sea­son, only to strug­gle with a trou­ble­some groin in­jury. And when Balotelli re­turned to Liver­pool in the sum­mer, man­ager Jur­gen Klopp shot down his chances of reg­u­lar foot­ball and ad­vised him to move on.

“Klopp doesn’t know me, I spoke to him once, he told me to go some­where else, work hard and then re­turn. So I said good­bye to them, and that we wouldn’t be see­ing each other again.”

Balotelli also said the cli­mate at Mi­lan was “con­fus­ing”.

“The prob­lem there is the ad­min­is­tra­tion,” added Balotelli.

“There’s only one per­son who is phe­nom­e­nal, and that’s (club CEO, Adri­ano) Gal­liani. All the rest is just... con­fu­sion.”

Balotelli has six goals in five games in all com­pe­ti­tions for Nice, where he has en­joyed a per­fect start save for a red card right at the end of Sun­day’s 2-1 home win over Lori­ent, shortly af­ter scor­ing a su­perb late win­ner.

He puts his cur­rent form down to feel­ing set­tled with his new team­mates, and in his new sur­round­ings on France’s Mediter­ranean coast.

“At the start, I chose Nice for the cli­mate, I wanted to be in a re­lax­ing but beau­ti­ful place, where it’s dif­fi­cult to get out the wrong side of the bed,” he said.

“The other rea­son I chose Nice is be­cause there’s a de­cent group of young play­ers. We’re all about the same age.” – AFP

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