Mario Balotelli has earned a recall to the Italy squad ahead of their upcoming European Qualifier against Croatia.
The Liverpool striker has been named in Antonio Conte’s squad for the first time since the former Juventus boss took over from Cesare Prandelli following the World Cup, all despite the high-profile form issues Balotelli has endured since returning to the Premier League from AC Milan. Italy and Croatia both go into the game with three wins from their opening three games, and Conte will know the importance of getting a win over his team’s main rival early on in the qualifying campaign as they look to book their place at Euro 2016.
Balotelli is still yet to score in the Premier League for his new club but has now been named in Conte’s 26-man squad for their clash against Croatia in Milan before the friendly against Albania two days later in Genoa. Following his £16 million move to Anfield, Balotelli has scored just twice for Liverpool, with both goals coming in cup competitions. With Liverpool struggling to replicate their impressive league form last season, Balotelli has been made something of a scapegoat in recent weeks following a string of below-par performances.
Joining Balotelli in Conte’s squad for the first time will be uncapped trio Torino defender Emiliano Moretti and called up midfielders Andrea Bertolacci of Genoa and Roberto Soriano of Sampdoria. There is also room for Atletico Madrid winger Alessio Cerci, with Southampton’s in-form frontman Graziano Pelle – maintaining his place in the squad after making his debut last month. Pelle could in fact be Balotelli’s main rival for a starting spot in the team, with the Saints forward currently enjoying an incredible run of scoring form that has put him in contention with Betfair to finish as the Premier League’s leading goalscorer this season.