Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is not in the Italy squad at the moment because he does not deserve to be.
That’s the opinion of Borussia Dortmund forward Ciro Immobile, who is part of the Azzurri team for their upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers.
‘Balotelli? There are other strikers here who are doing very well, players with great quality and if they are here it’s because they deserved to be,' Football Italia quotes the 24-year-old as saying. 'I know Mario well, he’s a good guy, but the coach makes the call-ups'.
Balotelli’s omission from new Italy coach Antonio Conte’s squad has hit the headlines both in Italy and in England.
The 24-year-old is acknowledged by many as the most talented Italian striker at the moment, but former Juventus boss Conte has included the likes of Mattia Destro, Immobile (who joined Dortmund from Torino in the summer for a reported transfer fee of £15.5 million), Simone Zara and Graziano Pelle in the team. Even Pablo Osvaldo and Sebastian Giovinco have been called up.
The reasons for Balotelli’s omission is understandable. The former Manchester City star had a rather underwhelming 2013-14 campaign for AC Milan and a disappointing 2014 Cup with Italy in Brazil in the summer.
Despite starting his Liverpool career with an encouraging performance, Balotelli has struggled in recent weeks and is misfiring. He has scored just once in the Champions League and has yet to open his account for the Reds in the Premier League.
Balotelli’s overall display for Liverpool so far in the Premier League has also been underwhelming. He has created three chances for his teammates in five appearances, has 44% shot accuracy and 74% pass accuracy, and has won just 41% of his duels.
Based on his current form, Balotelli does not deserve a place in the Italy squad and has been justifiably left out by Conte for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Malta.