Balotelli’s agent mad about Italy snub

Mario Balotelli’s agent expressed his disappointment that the Nice striker was overlooked by interim Italy manager Luigi Di Biagio for the March friendlies.

The Azzurri begin life under Di Biagio with games against Argentina and England, but there will be no World Cup to look forward to later this year after former boss Gian Piero Ventura failed in his mandate to secure qualification.

Balotelli last featured for the Italians at the 2014 edition in Brazil, where they crashed out of the tournament at the group stages. He was left out of the squad for Euro 2016 due to his struggles at Liverpool and then Milan.

However, the 27-year-old has managed to get his career back on track in France with Les Aiglons, for whom he has scored 39 goals in 58 appearances across all competitions over the past two seasons.

Instead, Di Biagio has turned to uncapped youngsters Patrick Cutrone and Federico Chiesa – leaving Mino Raiola fuming at the decision to snub his client and the reasoning behind it, after Balotelli’s all-round contribution was called into question.

“We’re disappointed with the failure to call up Balotelli,” Raiola told Radio 24.

“We’re even more disappointed with the explanation we received publicly, because we haven’t spoken to anyone.

“If Di Biagio says that numbers don’t count for a striker then the national team is closed for players like him.”

The super agent also rounded on the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), saying: “The problem isn’t the coach – it’s the football system. We have a federation that works without a plan or an idea for the future.

“The national team should be represented by the best, so if the best don’t go then we don’t understand the criteria.

“In other nations, when the national team plays, it’s a party but for us it’s a reason to fight. There’s no plan or identity, all we do is change the manager.

“I would restart from the German system. We have a system similar to the English one, where the coach works as a manager, but Di Biagio isn’t the right person for that.

“When things go well it’s thanks to everyone, but when they go badly the coach takes the blame alone, even if he doesn’t have any problems.

“To have Balotelli in the national team you need a person with a strong character to manage him. Ventura wasn’t that, in fact he was in total confusion and Di Biagio is showing the same thing.”