Italy striker Mario Balotelli will play no further part in the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and is to return home to receive treatment on a thigh injury, team doctor Enrico Castellacci announced on Monday.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) had previously revealed that Balotelli would not play in Thursday's semi-final against Spain after scans revealed a torn muscle in his left thigh.
Italy had hoped he would return to fitness in time for either the final or the third-place play-off on Sunday, but Castellacci ruled out that possibility and said the 22-year-old striker would now return to AC Milan.
"This morning we carried out some tests, but the medical conditions are not satisfactory and the player cannot recover between now and the final on Sunday. We prefer not to take any risks," Castellacci said during a press conference in Fortaleza.
"In agreement with the coach (Cesare Prandelli), it was decided to send him back to Milan after speaking to the medical staff at AC Milan, who will look after him."
Balotelli scored the winning goal in Italy's 2-1 success over Mexico, converted a trademark penalty in the 4-3 defeat of Japan, and teed up Emmanuele Giaccherini in the 4-2 loss to Brazil with an audacious back-heeled volley.
Prior to the tournament, Prandelli settled on a 4-3-2-1 formation in which everything was channelled towards Balotelli. Despite expressing disappointment at the booking that Balotelli incurred for tearing off his shirt after scoring against Mexico, Prandelli admitted that he has become a pivotal player for his country.
"It is difficult to talk about Mario," said the Italy coach. "He is unpredictable, but he is very motivated when he dons the blue shirt. We have said for years he has potential."
Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Prandelli could opt to field a 3-5-2 formation against Spain in Fortaleza on Thursday, with Alberto Gilardino coming into the attack in Balotelli's place.
El Shaarawy, eclipsed by Balotelli at San Siro in the latter half of the campaign, will compete with Juventus' Sebastian Giovinco, who scored the winner against Japan, for the right to partner the Bologna man.