Mario Balotelli believes he can earn a dramatic Italy recall in time for the World Cup play-offs, according to his club boss Vincenzo Montella.

The former Inter, Manchester City and Liverpool striker scored 14 goals in 36 games for the Azzurri before his international career ground to a halt in 2018.

Despite his long-time ally Roberto Mancini being head coach of the Azzurri, there has been little hint of a return to Italy duty since Mancini gave him three caps early in his reign.

Those three appearances were Balotelli's first for Italy since the 2014 World Cup, and he has not been called into a squad since September 2018, with his club career taking him in the meantime from Nice onwards to Marseille, Brescia, Monza and currently Adana Demirspor in Turkey.

Balotelli has scored five Super Lig goals this season for a team who sit eighth in the table after 16 games.

Former Roma frontman Montella, who also played for Italy, has floated the idea that there could yet be another chapter in the story of Balotelli's Azzurri career.

"Balotelli has extraordinary technical qualities. He is a good guy who sometimes goes off a little. But I found him very motivated, and I believe that in his career he has never been as concentrated as this year with us," Montella told Italia 1's Tiki Taka programme.

"He is growing a lot, it is a pleasure to coach him. He has the obsession to return to the national team. He is motivated, he believes in it, he knows he has to work hard, but he knows he has three months to convince Mancini that he knows everything about him, his strengths and weaknesses."

 

Italy won Euro 2020 just five months ago but face a battle to get to the World Cup, knowing they must beat North Macedonia on March 24 to set up a decider against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal or Turkey.

This is because, despite remaining unbeaten in qualifying so far, they finished only second to Switzerland in the group stage. Italy missed out on the 2018 World Cup, so to do so for a second successive time would be a major blow.

Montella said: "Mancini has done an extraordinary job since the beginning of his Azzurri adventure and winning the European Championship was a great thing. Getting to the World Cup will be difficult but Italy, in difficulties, always manage to bring out the best of its potential. I wish and hope that we will be able to qualify."

Mario Balotelli has completed a move to Turkish Super Lig side Adana Demirspor.

The 30-year-old striker spent 2020-21 with Monza in Serie B, where he scored six goals in 14 league appearances.

The former Manchester City forward has now joined the ambitious side from Adana, who secured promotion to Turkey's top flight last season.

The news was announced via a video released through the club's Twitter account.

Balotelli has now been signed to five different clubs since 2019, having spent three years with Nice after leaving Liverpool on a permanent deal in 2016.

The 36-cap Italy international will link up with former Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler and ex-Montpellier star Younes Belhanda at the New Adana Stadium.

Balotelli was a three-time Serie A winner with Inter and was part of Jose Mourinho's treble-winning squad in 2009-10.

He then joined City, winning the FA Cup in 2010-11 and the Premier League title in 2011-12, before signing for Milan.

A single-season return to England with Liverpool came in 2014-15 before he went back to the Rossoneri on loan, after which he moved to Ligue 1.

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