Italy have no problem with Balotelli – Buffon

The goalkeeper says it is not his international team-mates’ duty to curb the forward’s behaviour and that it is down to Cesare Prandelli to decide who is picked

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has insisted that the national side have no problem with Mario Balotelli.

New Azzurri coach Antonio Conte left the Liverpool striker out of his first squad since being named as successor to Cesare Prandelli, following a 2013-14 in which Balotelli struggled to replicate the form he had shown in his first six months at AC Milan.

Buffon did not want to wade into the debate over whether Balotelli deserved to be called up, instead hinting that it is not up to Italy players to educate the 24-year-old on behaviour off the pitch.

“We are players and Mario is our team-mate,” the goalkeeper told reporters. “We don’t have a problem with him.

“We are not so presumptuous enough to think that we can teach someone how to act or how to live, because it’s not as if we are 50 years older.

“I just think there is a coach and he decides what is best for the group. It is not our job to comment on who gets called up.

“I think players, as they are still young, do not have great self-discipline. It is inevitable that some coaches will push them from the start and that probably helps.”

Balotelli’s absence from the national side means that he will play no part in Italy’s opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway on Tuesday.

Instead, the forward is next expected to be in action when Liverpool face Aston Villa next Saturday in the Premier League in what is set to be his home debut for the Reds.

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