Manager Watch: Mancini and Balotelli primed for reunion

Mario Balotelli Italy

The former Manchester City duo could lock horns again for the Italian national side.

During their time in the north, Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli enjoyed... a love-hate relationship, to put it mildly.

One moment Mancini would be expressing his adoration for the enigmatic striker, the next lambasting him publicly before reports would inevitably surface of a training ground bustup between the pair.

But if you thought the drama between the duo was a thing of the past, you may be forced to think again.

Indeed, according to one bookmaker, Mancini is the outright favourite to succeed Cesare Prandelli as Italy boss - where he will once again work with 23-year-old Balotelli.

And, in an interview with Corriere dello Sport, the former Man City boss has declared his interest in coaching his country.

"Of course I'd like to coach a national team," he said. "I think it's one of the objectives every coach has. Of course I would be honoured -- I've always been proud of my origins when I've been abroad.

"It's one of the barriers that we've not yet demolished, having a foreign national team coach. But the reason is obvious: Italian coaches are the best in the world. We're the best prepared and there's no need to search for talented players abroad like at club level."

On the striker himself, Mancini added: "I love Balotelli but he must grow up. With [Marco] Verratti and [Ciro] Immobile, the team can be reconstructed."

Therein lies a hint of why the Mancini/Balotelli dynamic was always such a fascinating one: the 49-year-old is in no way short of self-belief; neither is the young striker.

Balotelli endured a disappointing World Cup, although he has perhaps been unfairly blamed for Italy's frustrating performances as a whole.

The 23-year-old is nevertheless Italy's brightest spark going forward. And, should Mancini be awarded the honour of managing the country of his birth, handling Balotelli will become a job in itself.

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