Have the Italian media pushed £19 million striker closer to Chelsea move?

Mario Balotelli -  San Siro, Milan, Italy

Mario Balotelli received heavy criticism from the Italian media last night. Could it be the deciding factor in a move to Chelsea?

If you think Mesut Ozil got a bad wrap last night, an overnight commute to Italy wouldn't have made you feel any better about player treatment in Europe.

After AC Milan's 5-1 aggregate defeat to Atletico Madrid, Balotelli was absolutely berated by Italian press outlets, with the 23-year-old failing to impress over the two legs.

Indeed, one Gazzetta headline accused the Italian of being "switched off," while the Corriere dello Sport branded Balotteli a "disaster."

With any other player, you might expect a positive reaction and an attempt to prove the media wrong. But not with Balotelli.

The 23-year-old is a sensitive soul and doesn't much like swathes of criticism aimed in his direction.

When he first joined AC Milan, for instance, 'Super Mario' interrupted a Sun journalist and told him he wouldn't answer his question as the newspaper had constantly criticised him during his time in England.

The Italy striker, however, might just be learning that the grass isn't any greener in his home country, with the press rounding on him on every possible occasion.

And could this prove a crucial factor in any decision to leave the Rossoneri?

Milan's Champions League exit means funds will need be recouped from somewhere and a certain Jose Mourinho only recently hinted at possible interest in the striker.

"In football you never know the future," the Chelsea boss said.

"Balotelli is with a big club at the moment but you never know the future. They want to keep the best players and want to keep the best Italian players. But Mario has already been in English football before."

Pastures new could make sense for all parties involved, then, with the Blues desperately needing a first-rate striker and Milan desperately needing a shake-up of some sort.

If the Italian media continue to lay the blame for Milan's problems at Balotelli's door, meanwhile, there will be little keeping the Italian at the San Siro.

Watch Balotelli's answer to a Sun Journalist after joining AC Milan back in 2013:

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