'Balotelli can be Milan's new Ibrahimovic'

Rossoneri shot-stopper Christian Abbiati has backed the striker and coach Filippo Inzaghi, who took over from Clarence Seedorf this summer

AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati has faith that Mario Balotelli can inherit Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s crown as the club’s striker.

The former Manchester City striker played in all three of the Italy’s World Cup games in Group D but, while he scored in the opening victory against England, he was impotent in defeats against Costa Rica and Uruguay.

Abbiati claims that the Rossoneri forward is eager to prove himself after humiliation in Brazil and even tipped the striker to match former forward Ibrahimovic, who left for Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.

“He will be back in the squad bursting with enthusiasm after the World Cup,” Abbiati told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He wants to prove that things are different from how it went in Brazil.

“Can he become Milan’s new Ibrahimovic? If he understands that he has to give his best in every training session, then yes.

“I am sure that with new coach Filippo Inzaghi he will succeed.”

Abbiati’s commendation comes amidst rumours that Milan cheif Adriano Galliani is keen to offload Balotelli, with Arsenal linked with the 23-year-old.

Abbiati, who has been at the Lombardy club since 1998 and was team-mates with Inzaghi for 11 years, has praised the boss’ impact since replacing Clarence Seedorf this summer.

“Inzaghi has brought a crazy enthusiasm, the team follows him as one,” he added. “Inzaghi is a concrete example and credible because he is the first one that people respect.”

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