French Ligue 1, Italy, Leagues, Mario Balotelli, Nice, Story


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With 22 goals in 31 games for Nice this season, the ESPN FC panel debate whether a move may be on the cards for Mario Balotelli.

Roberto Mancini will talk to Nice forward Mario Balotelli about a return to the Italy team after being named the new national coach on Tuesday.

Balotelli last appeared for his country at the 2014 World Cup but knows Mancini well from their time at Inter Milan and Manchester City.

The 27-year-old could return for the forthcoming friendlies against Saudi Arabia, France and Netherlands.

Earlier this month, several former Italy players advocated that Mancini should call up Balotelli once he takes the job.

“I’ll definitely talk to him,” Mancini said at a news conference. “Probably I will call him up. We want to see Balotelli like he was under [Cesare] Prandelli at Euro 2012.

“There will be room for everybody who plays well. I’ll be considering the age of players, because we’re looking to build for the future, but nobody will be excluded.”

Mancini was appointed in the aftermath of Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, which cost Gian Piero Ventura his job.

“Difficult moments happen, and it also can happen that you don’t qualify,” he said. “Of course, if you don’t win with Italy, you upset 50 million people — but if you win, it’s the greatest satisfaction you can have.

“It’s hard for a national team coach to make everybody happy because everybody sees football in a different way, but winning a major trophy is the only way to win everybody over.

“I want to bring Italy back to where they belong — at the top in the world and in Europe, and we’ve not won many European Championships.

“Being Italy coach is the best anybody can aspire to. This was the right moment for me in my career. I’m pleased also for my parents, who are very proud.”

Mancini said he did not yet know what system he would play and would also consider the makeup of his backroom staff, which could include national legend Andrea Pirlo.

“We’ve spoken about Pirlo with [sub-commissioner of the Italian FA Alessandro] Costacurta, but we need to speak with him and see what he wants to do,” Mancini said.

He added that he had yet to speak to goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who is to hold a news conference on Thursday, about his future plans.

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.



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