Monday, 5 March 2018

Mario Balotelli: I am ready to return to Italy

Mario Balotelli says he is ready to return to Italy in the summer and would be interested in joining Juventus or Napoli.

Balotelli, 27, has scored 13 goals in 19 Ligue 1 games for Nice this season and agent Mino Raiola recently said he was working on a summer switch to either Serie A or the Premier League.

Italy is the most likely destination for the former Manchester City and Liverpool forward, who told RAI television he wanted to return to his home country.

“My agent Raiola is dealing with my future — all I know is that I have matured and I am ready to return to Italy,” Balotelli said.

Balotelli added that a move to AC Milan for a third spell “would be very difficult because it would be the third time,” but admitted, “Juve and Napoli are clubs I like a lot.”

Juventus general manager Beppe Marotta has ruled out a move for the former Italy international, however, saying he was not the kind of player the club are looking for.

“In footballing terms, it’s spectacular to see Balotelli play,” Marotta told Mediaset. “He’s a great player, but he doesn’t have the profile that we are looking for. This does not mean he’s not a great player — he’s one of the most talented players Italian football has, and he could still be useful to the national team.”

Italy caretaker coach Luigi Di Biagio is reported to be considering recalling Balotelli to the national team for the first time since the 2014 World Cup for the friendlies against Argentina and England later this month.

Balotelli had previously been linked with a return to the squad during Gian Piero Ventura’s reign, but said: “Ventura came to Nice before our game against PSG last year and we had a long chat, but it was clear to me straight away that he would never call me up.

“But I deserved to be called up. Now he’s no longer in charge and I’m ready to return for the Azzurri.”

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