Balotelli: I deserved Italy recall
Mario Balotelli admits he expected his four-year exile from the Italy national team to come to an end in this month's friendly matches.
Nice striker Mario Balotelli believes he deserved a recall to the Italy squad for the friendlies with Argentina and England.
The 27-year-old was overlooked by Luigi Di Biagio despite scoring 14 goals in 19 starts in Ligue 1 this season, with youngsters Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone preferred alongside Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne.
Italy interim boss Di Biagio confirmed he would continue to monitor Balotelli's form with a view to handing him a call-up this year for the first time since the 2014 World Cup finals.
The former Liverpool forward admits he had been hoping to be given a chance this month, however.
"I was hoping for it," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I thought I deserved it."
14 - Mario Balotelli is the player who has scored the most goals (14) without delivering a single assist in the French Ligue 1 this season. Selfish. pic.twitter.com/MFTuGYSjKo— OptaJean (@OptaJean) 20 March 2018
Balotelli believes he has given his international prospects a boost by becoming more mature during fatherhood, insisting a more promiscuous lifestyle is very much behind him.
"I'm more mature, thanks to my children," he said. "I'm 27 years old. The time for girls is over."
The former Inter and AC Milan man also confirmed he is keeping his options open regarding his long-term future, with his contract at Nice expiring at the end of the season.
Asked if he would prefer to play in France, Italy or England, he replied: "Let's say I live on the border."