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Italy News: Bonucci impressed by Balotelli

9 months ago

In the latest Italy news, defender Leonardo Bonucci has claimed striker Mario Balotelli is more mature since being recalled to the national squad by coach Roberto Mancini.

The Nice striker scored 18 goals in 28 appearances for the French outfit last season but now looks set to leave Ligue 1.

Balotelli is wanted by a whole host of Italian clubs including Parma and is staying uncharacteristically coy about his next destination, which he says he will confirm in the coming weeks.

The 27-year-old has been rewarded for his form and could make his first appearance for the Azzurri since the 2014 World Cup.

Italy face Saudi Arabia in a friendly on Monday night before then taking on France on Friday.

Mancini’s men will soon start looking ahead to the Nations League and Bonucci insists Balotelli is a changed man.

He told reporters: “He’s changed compared to the past. He’s more mature. There’s been great involvement, desire and enthusiasm on the part of everybody and these are important foundations to build upon.”

Balotelli may be rested for the game against Saudi Arabia but he could well be the man to lead the line against France.

Discussing his plans, Mancini told reporters: “He wants to play in front of his friends in Nice [when Italy face France on June 1] so let’s see if we play him immediately or in our second game. I didn’t call him up because I felt obliged to, though, but because he’s good.

“Other Italy coaches have also called him up in the past. If he does well and puts in the effort, then there won’t be any problems. I’ll decide in the morning.”

France are 4/5 to win with Betfred, while the draw is 5/2 and Italy are available at odds of 19/5 for this week’s encounter.