Mario Balotelli believes he’s ‘still’ the best forward in Italy, trumping Scamacca, Raspadori

Ciaran McCarthy
Mario Balotelli, Adana Demirspor, April 2022
Mario Balotelli warming up ahead of Adana Demirspor game

Mario Balotelli believes he is “still the strongest” asset Italy have to call upon up top, and he “always hopes for the call” to return to the national side.

Take a guess how many games 33-year-old Balotelli has played for Italy. It’s 36. He made his debut for the Azzurri in 2010, and has played a surprisingly low number of games.

Perhaps that’s a result of his fiery temperament, meaning some managers might not trust him. Balotelli last played for Italy in 2018, and that was after spending four years out of the squad.

In any case, the forward, who has not played in a top-five European league since the 2019/20 season, believes he is the best available option for Italy.

“If I’m well, I still consider myself the strongest,” he told TV Play.

Balotelli also seemed to fire a shot at the strikers who featured in a 0-0 draw with Ukraine, which confirmed Italy’s place at Euro 2024.

“Did [Giacomo] Raspadori and [Gianluca] Scamacca play? How many shots did they make together? Two?” he said.

Indeed, Balotelli reiterated his desire to make it back into the Italy fold under Luciano Spalletti.

“I want to recover and play for the national team. I always hope for the call. I met Spalletti and I’ve met him several times We made some jokes when we met in a friendly against Napoli, but I have no relationship,” Balotelli added.

The forward seems to be overstating his skills a little bit. He feels he’s better than a number of players who regularly feature in competitive leagues, despite the fact he played in Serie B three seasons ago, and has since spent time in Turkey and Switzerland.

Balotelli scored 18 goals in the Turkish Super Lig two seasons ago – in the same season, Scamacca scored two goals less in a better league – Serie A – leading to a £30.5million move to West Ham.

He’s since returned to Serie A, and has scored five goals for Atalanta, while Balotelli’s scored three in Turkey.

If he was to make his way back into the squad, he’d need to show better form than he is doing.

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