Liverpool’s £16 million summer signing Mario Balotelli may have more quality than his Italian compatriot Simone Zaza, but he does not give his everything on the pitch.
That’s the opinion of Fiorentina defender Manuel Pasqual, who backs Italy national team coach Antonio Conte’s decision to snub the former AC Milan star in favour of Sassuolo forward Zaza in recent international matches.
‘Zaza certainly has fewer qualities than Balotelli in attack but he puts his soul on the field’, the left-back told Goal.com. ‘Zaza does what Conte demands and the result is there for all to see. We won two games and he scored too [against Norway]. So that’s the difference.
‘The message of Conte was that the national team berth is open to everyone and players of every age. However, you have to be enthusiastic and hard worker. You have to show us that you're not a ‘sticker’ but a real player’.
Prior to his call-up to the Azzurri for this month’s matches, 23-year-old Zara had not make a single appearance for Italy. The Sampdoria man made his debut for the European giants against the Netherlands in a 2-0 friendly international win and scored against Norway in a Euro 2016 qualifier just days later.
Balotelli has been a mainstay of the Italy team since Euro 2012 and much was expected of him at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. However, the 24-year-old failed to deliver and is seemingly not in new Italy coach Conte’s plans at the moment.
That said, the 2010 Champions League winner can earn his place back if he performs impressively for Liverpool and scores goals on a regular basis. And ‘puts his soul on the field’.