Giampiero Ventura has revealed he plans to chat to Mario Balotelli regarding an international recall and warned Italy not to underestimate Liechtenstein.
The 26-year-old has not been called up by his country in two years, but has hit six goals in as many games since a close-season move to Nice in France.
“Two months ago, he’d gone a year-and-a-half without playing,” said Ventura. “You can’t suddenly change history in two months.
“But he’s been important [for Nice]. I’ve never heard Balotelli’s technical ability questioned, but you have to consider other aspects with Mario. I’ll have a chat with him to understand his desire to be in contention. We’re open to [calling up] anyone.”
Italy are second in Group G in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying, behind Spain on goal difference and above Albania and Israel by a point. And though upcoming opponents Liechtenstein have lost all three of their preliminaries, Ventura stressed the Azzurri must avoid showing any complacency against the minnows.
“It’s a qualifier that we’re expected to win, but you still have to win,” said the 68-year-old. “Nobody wins in football without playing.
“Against Spain they lost 8-0, but until [55 minutes] they were only 1-0 down and hadn’t allowed many scoring chances. We must prepare with great care to avoid any problems.”
After playing in Vaduz on Saturday, Italy host Germany in Milan in a glamour friendly three days later.
Balotelli has scored five goals in five World Cup qualifiers. The Palermo native also impressed at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013 and got Italy’s winner in a victory over England at Brazil 2014.