21st of March 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Former Liverpool and Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has scored 22 goals in 31 appearances for Ligue 1 side Nice this season, but apparently that was not enough to persuade Italy caretaker boss Luigi Di Biagio to call him up for the upcoming international friendly matches against Argentina and England. Balotelli has not been called up for the Italian national team since 2014, and this time Luigi Di Biagio chose to call up young strikers Patrick Cutrone from AC Milan and Federico Chiesa from Fiorentina.
Di Biagio tried to explain why he overlooked Balotelli: "I'll keep following him and we'll see what happens in the next few months. Scoring goals is very important for forwards but this must be complemented by their performances. I made my evaluations and took a decision for the good of the team." Mino Raiola, who is Mario Balotelli's agent, replied: "We're disappointed with the failure to call-up Balotelli. We're even more disappointed with the explanation we received, publicly because we haven't spoken to anyone. If Di Biagio says that numbers don't count for a striker then the national team is closed for players like him."
"The problem isn't the coach - it's the football system," Raiola added. "We have a federation that works without a plan, an idea for the future. The national team should be represented by the best, so if the best don't go then we don't understand the criteria. In other nations, when the national team plays, it's a party but for us it's a reason to fight. There's no plan or identity, all we do is change the manager. I would restart from the German system. We have a system similar to the English one, where the coach works as a manager, but Di Biagio isn't the right person for that."
Italy have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after losing in the qualification play-off tie against Sweden. Luigi Di Biagio is 7/4 at Bet Victor to get the Italy manager job on a permanent basis.
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Balotelli is great player and he is in great shape this season. He already scored 22 goals and I expected to see him back in National team. But, there is other side of the story. Italy failed to qualify to World Cup, they bring new coach, who already coached their U21 team and they want to give a chance to some younger player. So , I think that Balotelli will have his oportunity to show how good he is, and then everything will be on him.
These agents are too powerful these days, aren't they!?!
Although Ballotelli's agent certainly has a point there criticizing the system and not the coach itself, obviously the Italian system is not perfect right now and not getting qualified for the World Cup is just the top of the problem.
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