Mario Balotelli the Adanaspor striker didn’t get called up for the Azzuri’s world cup qualification playoffs.
Roberto Mancini has explained his decision to omit Mario Balotelli from his latest Italy squad, two months after his recall to the international fold.
Former Manchester City and Milan forward Balotelli has won 36 caps for Italy, but has not played for his country since 2018.
The 31-year-old, who currently plays for Turkish outfit Adana Demirspor, was drafted back into the Azzurri squad in January but Mancini opted against selecting him again when naming his 33-man group for the 2022 World Cup qualification play-offs.
“I brought those who could be more useful,” the Italy head coach told a press conference ahead of their semi-final clash with North Macedonia.
“We only have a few training sessions. There isn’t much time to try new things. The basis is made by players who were part of the team at Euro 2020, except [Federico] Bernardeschi, who is not fully fit.
“I couldn’t call 40 players. We have called strikers with different characteristics for these games.”
Cagliari striker Joao Pedro was drafted in for the latest round of international fixtures instead of Balotelli, with the 30-year-old boasting ten goals and four assists from 29 Serie A appearances so far this season.
Pedro, who was born in Brazil but is an Italian citizen by marriage, was chosen for his versatility as Mancini looks to ensure the Azzurri book a place in the final of their UEFA qualifying section against either Portugal or Turkey.
“There are no big reasons [for picking Pedro over Balotelli,” the 57-year-old said. “Even in terms of numbers, there wasn’t much more I could do.
“It’s always sad to leave a player at home, whether he is Balotelli, [Davide] Calabria or Bernardeschi, but that’s my choice. Joao Pedro can play in different roles in the attack.”