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Nigel De Jong Slams Balotelli's Tactics, David Beckham Defends The Italian

Manchester City’s Nigel De Jong has warned teammate Balotelli that he is in danger of wasting his exceptional talent courtesy his unprofessional antics both on and off the pitch.

De Jong vs. Balotelli

In the latest of Balotelli’s frequent unprofessional incidents, the player publicly expressed his disgust on being substituted by manager Roberto Mancini just 30 minutes into the preseason friendly against LA Galaxy. Mancini’s decision to substitute the player came after Balotelli, clean through on goal, spun the ball and attempted to score with a trick shot through the back of his legs. His effort went well wide and City were later made to toil hard for the win. Mancini later justified his decision by saying he needed to “show him [Balotelli] that in football you always have to be professional”.

Speaking of Balotelli’s action, De Jong said:

“I’ve played with some strange characters in the past but it’s the first time I have seen that. It is frustrating, and he has to iron out those issues otherwise it will be a waste of his talent. He has to realise that now. All his team-mates are here to help him but he’s his own person and he is the only one who can change his ways.

“I think everybody in the dressing room tries to have an influence on him, not only me. Everybody is trying but it is on him to change himself now. He has to realise it’s up to him. We’re his team?mates and we’re always trying to help but he has to make the right decisions and get the focus for himself.

“He must have been sitting on the bench afterwards thinking: ‘Why did I do that?’ But it’s for him to learn. He has to realise that something like this will not be accepted, either by the team or the staff.”

“He’s a very talented guy and he has all the right attributes to be a world-class player. Everyone is always talking about the negative things but, as a football player, he’s one of the biggest talents. He just has to remove these kind of moments from his game.”

Beckham comes out in support of Balotelli

Meanwhile, Balotelli got backing from an unexpected personality. Former Manchester United player (and an all time fan favorite) David Beckham expressed his support for the Italian, adding that the player will eventually mature with age.

“I have watched it back a few times and from his mannerisms I believe he thought he was offside. Mario has been a great player for quite a few years and he is still very young. He will continue to get better I am sure. But it doesn’t matter whether you think it was offside or not. There are a lot of young kids watching these teams and great players who come out here. You have to be professional and score the goal.”

The latest Balotelli controversy was an unsatisfactory way for City to end their US trip. The Etihad outfit now prepare for a friendly against Internazionale in Dublin on Sunday.

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