ITALY

Balotelli: “Klopp doesn't know me; I only spoke to him once”

The striker says there’s no love lost with former clubs AC Milan and Liverpool but is confident he will re-launch his international career with Italy.
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Balotelli: “Klopp doesn't know me; I only spoke to him once”
VALERY HACHE AFP

I'll be back, says Balotelli

Mario Balotelli is plotting an incendiary return to Italy’s national team despite being overlooked for this round of 2018 World Cup qualifiers. In an interview with Sky Sport Italia, the 26-year-old also took a swipe at former clubs AC Milan and Liverpool, claiming that neither was cut out to suit his style.

Balotelli has not featured for Italy since the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay sent the Azzurri home early from 2014 World Cup Brazil. But this season he has enjoyed an impressive start with Nice, scoring five goals in his first three league games to put Les Aiglons top of the table - current form which he feels won't go unnoticed by national team coach Giampiero Ventura.

“He was right not to select me because I didn't deserve it”, Balotelli told Sky Sport Italia. “It's better for Ventura to not select me this time around because when I return, I want to be at my best”.

Balotelli joined AC Milan in January 2013 before moving to Liverpool in 2014 but he never settled at Anfield and returned to Milan on loan last season, only to struggle with a niggling groin problem. On return to Merseyside, he found himself outcasted, and he says there is no love lost between him and Reds’ manager Jürgen Klopp.

Communication breakdown

“Klopp doesn't know me; I only spoke to him once, and he told me to go somewhere else, work hard and then return. So I said goodbye to them, and that we wouldn't be seeing each other again”, Balotelli shrugged, adding that neither Milan nor Liverpool were adapted to him. “It wasn't anyone's fault. They weren't ideal environments for me. I didn't make mistakes in terms of my game or my behaviour, but I did get injured and that's not something I can control”.

Balotelli said that the climate at Milan was “confusing” and pinpointed administration problems. “There's only one person there who is great, and that's (CEO, Adriano) Galliani. All the rest is just... confusion”.

He thinks the reasons behind his current form is due to the mild Mediterranean climate and being around players in a similar age group: “At the start, I chose Nice for the climate; I wanted to be in a relaxing but beautiful place, where it's difficult to get out the wrong side of the bed. The other reason I chose Nice is because there's a decent group of young players - we're all about the same age”.