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Mancini: “I love Balotelli, but I can’t do anything anymore”

Mario Balotelli, Roberto Mancini, Italy
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Italy manager Roberto Mancini expressed his exasperation over Mario Balotelli’s inability to find a new club, which he thinks is “not normal”.

Balotelli’s career has been turned upside down in the last few months since he left Marseille. It came as a surprise to some considering he fired in eight goals in 15 appearances, and became a fan favourite.

But Les Olympiens’ fifth-place finish in last season’s Ligue 1 denied them qualification for Europe. Therefore, the club couldn’t afford to retain Balotelli and released him at the end of his contract in July.

The former Manchester City and Liverpool striker has since been actively searching for a new team. However, it seems there haven’t been many suitable offers with the player still a free agent.

At one point a surprise move to Brazil with Flamengo seemed a possibility. Negotiations between Balotelli and the club, though, eventually broke down, with latest reports linking him with hometown club Brescia instead.

“At 29, and for the second year in a row, less than 10 days before the start of the championship, he still didn’t have the absolute certainty of a team,” Mancini told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“He didn’t prepare, he didn’t train regularly. He must reflect, it is not normal.”

When quizzed on if Balotelli’s reported move to Brescia could seal a return to the Italy national team, Mancini replied: “Whether it will be a good solution does not depend on Brescia but on him.

“Perhaps by playing closer to home he will feel more comfortable but it is not [guaranteed to] be enough.

“I love him, but for him I can’t do anything anymore. He must think that he is in the middle of his career and that he still has much to give – if he wants.”

Mancini gave Balotelli his Serie A debut at Inter Milan in 2007 and later brought him over to City. He even recalled the striker into the Italy team in 2018 following a four-year absence.

But the former City boss hasn’t recalled Balotelli, who turned 29 years old last week, since then.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 17: Roberto Mancini, manager of Manchester City, unveils his new signing, Mario Balotelli.