Mario Balotelli says he “expected” to be included in the Italy national team squad, as he believes he has grown during his time at Nice.
The striker was omitted from the selection to face Argentina and England over the most recent international break, with caretaker manager Luigi Di Biagio instead preferring Ciro Immobile, Andrea Belotti and Patrick Cutrone.
Balotelli has enjoyed a prolific spell in Ligue 1, however, scoring 22 goals in 31 appearances in all competitions thus far this season, and he admits that he was surprised by Di Biagio’s snub.
“If I’m honest: I expected to be back in Azzurro,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I’ve matured, I’m 27 and I have two children. The time for [messing around with] girls has long gone.
“Italy, France or England? I’m someone who lives on edge.”
Balotelli has not played for Italy since the 2014 World Cup, but Di Biagio maintains that the door is open for the former Liverpool and Manchester City striker to return to the fold.
“I’ll keep following him and we’ll see what happens in the next few months,” he said after naming his squad.
“Scoring goals is very important for forwards but this must be complemented by their performances. I made my evaluations and took a decision for the good of the team.”