Raiola fumes at Italy over Balotelli omission

Mario Balotelli’s omission from the Italy squad for their upcoming friendlies has outraged the striker’s agent, Mino Raiola.

The Nice forward has not been selected for the Azzurri since 2014, but rumours suggested he was being considered for matches against Argentina and England after an impressive run of form.

Balotelli has scored 22 goals in 31 appearances for Nice this season, but has been overlooked after uncapped duo Patrick Cutrone and Federico Chiesa were selected.

Caretaker manager Luigi Di Biagio has vowed to keep tabs on Balotelli’s performances ahead of further friendlies against Saudi Arabia, France and Ukraine at the end of the season, but that was not enough for the unsurprisingly outspoken Raiola.

“We’re disappointed with the failure to call-up Balotelli,” he told Radio 24.

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“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. 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.

Mario Balotelli Italy Euro 2012

“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.

“When things go well it’s thanks to everyone, but when they go badly the coach takes the blame alone, even if he doesn’t have any problems.

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“To have Balotelli in the national team you need a person with a strong character to manage him. [Gianpiero] Ventura wasn’t that, in fact he was in total confusion and Di Biagio is showing the same thing.

“The striker is just a player who scores, and if the dressing room doesn’t want him then who is saying that? Do they have names and surnames? Do they control the dressing room or does the coach?”

Italy are going through a transitional phase following their failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia this summer and have been drawn against Poland and Portugal in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.


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