'My goal is to stay in this team' - Zaza warning for Balotelli

Mario Balotelli Italy

Simone Zaza is not ready to let Mario Balotelli walk back into the Italy fold.

Mario Balotelli is probably really happy with things are going at club level now. He has signed for one of the most prestigious clubs in the world at Liverpool and will undoubtedly be involved in a title challenge of sorts this season.

But on the international front things are not going so well. He was the darling of Italy when he scored the winner against England at the World Cup - but since then things have turned sour. He was poor in Italy's next two games against Costa Rica and Uruguay, with many Azzurri fans blaming his lacklustre attitude for their demise.

Then, Cesare Prandelli, a long time supporter of Balotelli's left his role as Italian head coach - and in came Antonio Conte.

Conte is a manager who expects his strikers to press from the front. Balotelli only does this when he feels like it. With a wealth of attacking options Conte decided to leave Balotelli out of his first national selection. Balotelli was suspended for the game with Norway anyway, but he was not even included for the Holland friendly last week - many suspect, even without suspension, Conte would have left him at Liverpool anyway.

And now, his effective replacement Simone Zaza, has staked a claim for continued selection. The Sassuolo striker had a blinder against Holland last week and scored against Norway yesterday.

And he is not ready to give up his place in the team to Balotelli, or anyone for that matter:

"[The goal] Was a dream come true, now my goal is to stay in this team and continue to do well. It's very hard to be an attacker with Conte. To do well we need to work hard as a team and we have to run."

Zaza is clearly not ready to allow Balotelli to simply waltz back into this team. To do so the £16 million Liverpool newbie is going to have to work hard, as he would if he started for Conte's new Italy.

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