Mario Balotelli’s brother believes the former Inter and Milan attacker would be the answer for Italy’s striker problems, but should he be called up for the play-offs in March?
The Azzurri are in the draw for the play-offs scheduled in March, finishing second behind Switzerland in Group C of the World Cup Qualifiers.
Italy must win a semi-final and a Final to book a ticket for Qatar 2022 and the recent striker problems have given Italy CT Roberto Mancini a headache.
Ciro Immobile was ruled out with an injury and Mancini was not convinced by Andrea Belotti’s performance in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Belotti didn’t impress in the absence of Immobile, who has also been criticised for his lack of goals in the Azzurri shirt.
The lack of depth in the attacking department has been discussed in recent days and Balotelli’s brother Enock Barwuah believes the Adana Demirspor striker should be called up.
Balotelli has moved to Turkey to kickstart his career at 31, where he has scored five times in 13 games so far with Vincenzo Montella’s side.
Balotelli, however, scored Italy’s last goal in a World Cup, as the Azzurri didn’t qualify for Russia 2018.
The 31-year-old scored the winner in the 2-1 triumph against England in Group D of World Cup 2014, before the Azzurri lost 1-0 to both Costa Rica and Uruguay and thus crashed out of the competition.
A lot of the blame was put on the shoulders of the striker, who was out of the squad until he returned for the three friendlies against Saudi Arabia, France and the Netherlands in 2018, before playing 62 minutes in the UEFA Nations League against Poland later that year.
Balotelli has scored 14 goals in 36 caps with the Azzurri and as Mancini is currently struggling to find an immediate replacement for Immobile, it could be an idea to call the striker back into the fold ahead of the games in March.
There’s been a reliability problem with the former Liverpool and Manchester City forward, but he has now moved to Turkey to rebuild his career. It’s not something new for Balotelli, who has played in England, France and Italy during his career, but it’s a sign of intent.
After having worked with Mancini at City and Inter, the striker believes his relationship with Mancini could help him win a place in the team.
“I have a very good relationship with Mancini, and I have always had it,” Balotelli told OCW Sport. “I feel ready to return to the national team.
“It would be a dream. I’d be leaving Turkey by foot now if I knew I got a call-up in March.”
Balotelli has always shown a great desire to return to the Azzurri squad and if Mancini can’t find a better option to replace Immobile than to play with a ‘false nine’, maybe the former Brescia forward could have the potential to impress once more for the national team.