Mario Balotelli's Italy career is OVER, confirms Roberto Mancini
- Striker earned 36 caps for his country
- Registered 14 goals for the Azzurri
- No longer being considered for a call-up
WHAT HAPPENED? The enigmatic former Manchester City, Liverpool and Inter striker had been hoping to force his way back into the Azzurri fold after previously registering 14 goals through 36 senior appearances. Balotelli is, however, now 32 years of age and plying his trade in Switzerland for Sion – finding the target on five occasions this season – and his ability to generate controversy wherever he goes appears to have ruled him out of the running for a shock international recall.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Mancini, who has worked with the mercurial frontman at City and Inter while handing him three international caps, has told reporters when asked if Balotelli was still in his thoughts: “I think that chapter is closed.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Italy have been short on firepower at times, leading Balotelli to post on Instagram that “there are Italian strikers out there and they are in good shape”, but Argentina-born Mateo Retegui netted in each of his opening two appearances for the Azzurri during the last international break and Mancini is eager to find more options closer to home. He added, with Retegui currently turning out for Tigre: “We follow many players, if we manage to take them from Serie A then we are happier. It is not easy for us to call a player from the other side of the world, it seems to me to be without logic. Ciro [Immobile] has always been injured in his last call-ups, otherwise he would have been there. He's not the problem.”
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WHAT NEXT? Reigning European champions Italy, who missed out on a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, will be back in action on June 15 when facing Spain in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League.