Mario Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola says Napoli would be getting a “bargain” by signing the striker from Nice this summer
Balotelli, who is out of contract at the end of June and appears set to return to Serie A, marked his return to the Italy national team with a goal in the 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia on Monday night, and Raiola believes he has now won over his doubters and is ready to prove himself on the biggest stage once again.
“Anybody with a big, ambitious project in their minds would, today, be getting a bargain by signing Mario,” Raiola told Sky Sport Italia. “He’s vice-captain of the national team and I don’t think the excuse about his behaviour cuts it anymore. He’s matured and his past two years have been perfect.
“Technically and commercially, he’s a bargain. There are four players in that position [at Napoli] but apart from [Lorenzo] Insigne, none of them are as good as Mario, but then it’s up to their president how he strengthens his squad.”
Napoli have shown their ambition for next season by appointing Carlo Ancelotti as coach. He has already presented president Aurelio De Laurentiis with a list of transfer targets to approach before he starts work on July 9 and Balotelli could well be one of them — or at least Raiola believes he should be.
“I think things are getting back to normality [now Balotelli’s back in the national team],” he said. “Before, people were out of their minds, but not now. They criticised me when I said he was Italy’s best centre forward and one of the best in the world. Somebody even thought we could qualify [for the World Cup] without him.”
Balotelli, who was given a standing ovation by the crowd in St. Gallen when he was substituted, celebrated his 14th goal for his country by paying tribute to the late Davide Astori and his own father on Instagram.
“I know that it’s late, but I know that you are there,” he wrote. “I’m convinced you were up there, together with my dad, watching the game. This goal, even if it doesn’t mean anything, and doesn’t matter for anything, is dedicated to you #davideastori.”
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.