Mario Balotelli‘s on a goal-a-game pace for the surprise leaders of Ligue 1, but still cannot escape his reputation.
The French striker, author of 8 goals in 8 league matches for Nice and 10 in 13 overall, has earned a call-up from Italy on production.
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But it’s more than production for the mercurial 26-year-old Balotelli, and Italy boss Giampiero Ventura needs to talk to the striker before he agrees to bring him back into the fold for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.
He has 13 goals in 33 caps, the last tally coming against England in Italy’s World Cup opening win in Brazil.
“No one doubts that Mario is a talented player and I have nothing against him,” Ventura said. “But for every player, not just Balotelli, what counts is the ability to be part of a group, to make sacrifices and share an understanding.
“There are those who are used to doing so and others who aren’t. After the conversation I will have with him, he will have to ask questions of himself, and above all give himself answers.”
Balotelli has more than a few bizarre tales in his dossier. Though more than a part of us wonders whether this would happen with any other player on Balotelli’s blistering form, we imagine it would take Balotelli literally slapping Ventura for a call-up not to happen.
With Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile among those vying for playing time, there are other suitors should Balotelli drop the ball (so to speak). This could be his last chance to impress Gli Azzurri.
Ventura is has three wins, two draws, and a single loss since taking the reigns of Italy.