Nothing to mend with Balotelli, says Chiellini

Balotelli has been recalled by Italy for the first time since the tournament in Brazil, when his team mates made veiled criticism of the maverick forward’s lacklustre performances and behaviour.


Balotelli had filled a Panini album with stickers of himself after scoring in the 2-1 win over England in Italy’s opening game and posted a photograph of it on his Facebook page.

However, after he failed to hit the target in the next two games, against Costa Rica and Uruguay, midfielder Daniele De Rossi said: “We need real men, not Panini stickers or characters. These are of no use to the national team.”

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon added: “On the pitch, you see who people really are or are not.”

However, Chiellini said on Wednesday that it was all water under the bridge.

“There is nothing to mend,” he told reporters. “The coach has made his choice and there is nothing to add.

“Things went badly in Brazil but we have put a lid on that.

“I understand that it is important for the media to know how many times Mario goes to the bathroom, how often he sneezes and how many times he has called his mother.

“But Balotelli is as good as De Rossi, Buffon and the newcomers. What is important is that on Sunday we will be at one,” added Chiellini, before asking that reporters change the subject.

Italy said that midfielder Marco Verratti had been ruled out of Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Croatia because of a thigh muscle problem.

“Marco Verratti will return to France to continue the necessary treatment to recover from an insertional tendinopathy of his left adductor that prevented him from training on Monday,” said the Italian federation in a statement.

Italy and Croatia have both won their opening three games in Group H.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in London; editing by Stephen Wood)