• Leonardo Bonucci insists Balotelli is still welcome in the Italy squad
Leonardo Bonucci insists Mario Balotelli is still welcome in the Italy squad, despite the striker’s poor form for Liverpool this season.
Balotelli was not selected by Italy manager Antonio Conte for Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Bulgaria and Tuesday’s friendly against England.
Juventus defender Bonucci is aware Balotelli is struggling on Merseyside but acknowledges the 24-year-old can benefit the current Italy squad; if he works hard for the team.
Bonucci told reporters: ‘Mario is not in a good period of his career. However, he was an asset in the last European Championship.
‘He’s welcome in this team but he has to be part of our group. This team is devoted to hard work.’
Balotelli joined Liverpool from Italian side AC Milan in the summer but has scored just once in the Premier League for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
The former Manchester City star has not featured for Italy since last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.