The Juventus defender is unsurprised the maverick striker has been left out of Antonio Conte’s Italy squad for Euro 2016, citing his unprofessional attitude as a key factor
Leonardo Bonucci believes Mario Balotelli has been left out of Italy’s plans for Euro 2016 because they cannot afford to have “prima donnas” in their squad.
Balotelli, 25, has been persistently criticised for an unprofessional attitude and lack of discipline throughout his career.
A lacklustre loan spell at AC Milan this season, in which he started just 10 matches and only scored three goals in all competitions, proved the latest episode of a career defined by underachievement.
Manager Antonio Conte subsequently left Balotelli, who is set to return to Liverpool for next season, out of his preliminary Italy squad for the European Championships, and Bonucci believes he has paid the price for a lax attitude.
“Everything has always been in Mario’s hands, he has to be intelligent to understand what has to change, but as of yet he hasn’t done so,” said the Juventus centre-back.
“He would have been useful to this team, but there’s no time for us to be prima donnas, we have to be tanks that sacrifice themselves for their team-mates.
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“If he understood this, he would become one of the best strikers in the world, but he still has time to do so.
“I say that in the hope it triggers something inside him and he can use his gifts to achieve personal satisfaction and rediscover this shirt.”
Giampiero Ventura, who left Torino on Wednesday, has been tipped to replace Conte as Italy coach when he leaves for Chelsea after Euro 2016.
Bonucci played his first full Serie A season under Ventura at Bari in 2009-10 and backs him to succeed if he is chosen as Conte’s successor.
“I played 38 games for him in my debut Serie A season at Bari. If he were to be the new coach, he will instil a clear idea of how we play and that’s what we need,” added Bonucci.
“We’re not that strong in terms of quality, so we’ll have to improve on a tactical level, and he’s really strong in that aspect.”