Don't try to change Balotelli, warns Cassano

The forward insists the AC Milan man must be allowed to develop without overbearing scrutiny and admits he would relish going to the World Cup with Francesco Totti

Parma forward Antonio Cassano has warned that people must not waste time trying to change Mario Balotelli.

The mercurial striker has struggled for consistency at times this season but remains AC Milan’s undisputed star under new boss Clarence Seedorf.

Cassano – himself no stranger to off-the-field controversies – believes the former Manchester City man must be allowed to flourish in his own inimitable way rather than face constant scrutiny over his attitude.

“I can say only one thing: use the carrot and stick with Balotelli, and take what comes. Do not try to change him,” Cassano told Corriere dello Sport.

“He’s a good guy. But he is a bit like me. I was taken in the right direction, but I too did not do the right thing at times.

“However, Balotelli is what you see. Do not try to invent another Balotelli.”

Cassano has been in outstanding form this season, scoring 11 goals in 26 Serie A matches for Europa League hopefuls Parma, including a double in the 4-2 win over Milan.

Encouraged by recent comments from Cesare Prandelli, who insisted he would not discount any players for his World Cup plans based on their age, the 31-year-old admits he would relish the chance to play in Brazil this summer – and believes Francesco Totti should join him there.

“I hope so [that Totti is selected,” Cassano continued. He’s a phenomenon. Spain, England, whoever faces Italy will be concerned by him. But I don’t want to trouble Prandelli.

“I heard what Prandelli said and I was very pleased. I have to thank him. I understand that the challenge is beautiful and open.

“I am very happy because what will determine it is what happens in the field. And from that point of view I would say that I will give my all.

“It is a challenge that will allow me to start over in some ways, but also to conclude. I am a player who has had too much and on occasion thrown it away. I’ve always been one to do that.

“Now I have to think less about what was and more about the present. The present is what I want – the World Cup.

“Have I considered going? Sometimes I think about it. To get to the World Cup would be a success.

“Perhaps I could be decisive. To be appreciated there would be something I could keep with me for quite a while.”

Cassano also dismissed reports linking him with a switch to Napoli, adding: “Napoli? I have two more years on my contract, I really want to finish my career at Parma.”

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