'Balotelli is not indispensable for Italy' – Chiellini

The defender played down the absence of the enigmatic striker and says recent reports of Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli going to Juventus after the World Cup are untrue

Italy stopper Giorgio Chiellini has claimed the team is not dependant on Mario Balotelli, even after they drew 2-2 against Denmark on Friday.

The AC Milan striker missed the World Cup qualifying match due to illness, but Chiellini refused to attribute the draw in Copenhagen to his absence.

“Nobody is indispensable,” the defender told reporters at a press conference. “This is and always will be Balotelli’s Italy, even if it is possible to play without him.

“Mario has been unlucky because he picked up an injury in the first training session and then had a fever. I do not care if he annoys someone, that is the story of his career.”

Meanwhile, Cesare Prandelli has been linked to the Juventus dugout after his contract with the Azzurri expires next year after the World Cup, but Chiellini has dubbed such reports as pure speculation.

“I think it is fantasy football, as we are so tied to [Antonio] Conte at Juventus and Prandelli for Italy,” he continued.

“We are carrying out a good project with him here [for Italy], but everything else is really fantasy football.” 

Chiellini then moved to play down his club’s admission that they are resigned to losing Turin prodigy Paul Pogba at some point in the future.

“The statements about Pogba are nothing striking. In the face of a big offer, no player is not for sale,” the 29-year-old said.

“It does not mean that Juventus have put Pogba on the market – he’d have been sold this summer if that was the case.

“I hope that Paul stays with us for a long time, and I am sure he will soon renew his contract. But as for the future, no one can safely say.”

Pogba joined the Bianconeri in 2012 on a free transfer from Manchester United, and has since established himself as a mainstay for the Italian champions.

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