De Rossi criticises Arsenal linked Balotelli's Panini album as Italy crash

Cole and Balotelli England Italy

Mario Balotelli lasted just 45 minutes as Italy bowed out of the World Cup.

Mario Balotelli's talent is not in doubt, but his determination to dig in when his side are up against it has been questioned throughout his promising career.

The Italian international was substituted at half-time against Uruguay despite his side's need for a goal, suggesting all was not well regarding the controversial striker.

It does not seem it within the Italian camp either, with manager Cesare Prandelli resigning after the final whistle and Italy's elimination from the World Cup was confirmed.

Midfielder Daniele de Rossi spoke publicly to criticise Mario Balotelli, who scored one goal in 208 minutes of football.

"We need real men and not Panini pictures."

Outgoing manager Prandelli also criticised Balotelli: "He must be able to control himself. I replaced Mario because I feared that we would end up with 10 men."

De Rossi's comment was in reference to a photo Balotelli posted on his social media page ahead of the tournament, featuring stickers of himself stuck over the entire Italian team in a Panini sticker album.

It may seem trivial, but his actions may well have irked the rest of the Azzurri squad, with Balotelli showing disregard for his teammates.

His future remains up in the air, AC Milan are said to be willing to cash in on him, but Arsenal have distanced themselves from the transfer chase, with Arsene Wenger dismissing the rumours as 'pure invention'.

Wherever the striker lands up, one thing is clear, controversy will follow.

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