Italy manager Antonio Conte has offered Mario Balotelli some harsh words after the Liverpool star pulled out of his country’s squad to face Croatia and Albania this week.
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The 24 year-old striker suffered a mild hamstring strain in training with his country prior to the Croatia game, and was sent back to Merseyside to recuperate with his club.
Balotelli wasn’t able to impress Conte in his few days with the Italian squad, with the former Juventus coach telling Rai Sport he was concerned the £16 million Liverpool summer signing would not be able to change.
“I’m not so arrogant as to claim that I’m different from the great coaches, but the past tells us that they failed to change Balotelli,” Conte is quoted as saying by Football Italia.
“It’ll be up to the player, but I don’t have much time and I need certain things.”
Mario Balotelli has yet to score in the Premier League for his new club, but has found the back of the net in both Capital One Cup and UEFA Champions League.
Although widely criticised for his part in Italy’s 2014 FIFA World Cup exit at the group stage, the former AC Milan hitman did score the winning goal against England in the Azzurri’s opener.
However, Balotelli’s poor performances in subsequent matches against Costa Rica and Uruguay resulted in Conte’s predecessor Cesare Prandelli denouncing him, and senior players suggesting that he could have put in more effort.