Balotelli's time is now, says Prandelli

Th Azzurri coach believes that patience has paid off for the former Manchester City man, and revealed his desire to see an Italy-Argentina friendly to celebrate the new Pope

AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli is entering the prime of his career, according to Italy boss Cesare Prandelli.

The forward netted three times in two games in the international break, and has scored seven in his six appearances for the Rossoneri since arriving from Manchester City on January’s transfer deadline day.

Prandelli believes the mercurial attacker is beginning to realise his undoubted potential after spending too long in the headlines for the wrong reasons in recent seasons.

“When you are dealing with a talent like this, you just need patience,” Prandelli told reporters on Wednesday.

“The moment eventually comes when the talent has to take on his share of the responsibility and stand on his own feet. This is the right moment for Balotelli.

“I have to compliment him on his relaxed approach, his belief and his quality.”

Prandelli added his hope that a friendly match could be arranged with Argentina, to commemorate the inauguration of Pope Francis I.

“I would love to be able to organise an Italy-Argentina match. Not only would it be a challenge between great teams, but also a tribute to the Pope,” the former Fiorentina head coach said.

“It would be wonderful for both teams to meet with the Pope and then go to the stadium in one big team bus, all together.

“I have faced all the big world teams and Lionel Messi’s men are the only ones I am missing so far.”

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