Mario Balotelli staying put - AC Milan
AC Milan general manager Adriano Galliani insists Mario Balotelli is going nowhere this summer, despite being made scapegoat for Italy's poor showing at the World Cup.
The Azzurri were due to return from Brazil on Thursday -- after crashing out of the tournament at the group stage -- with the players based in the north of Italy, including Balotelli, offloaded in Milan before the remainder of the squad was taken to Rome.
The Milan forward is likely to go on holiday immediately to escape the criticism being levelled at him from frustrated Italy supporters, but Galliani expects him to return to start preseason training under new coach Filippo Inzaghi.
Balotelli will also be wearing a Rossoneri shirt when the transfer window closes at the end of August, according to Galliani, despite speculation that he is set for a summer exit.
"I don't understand why everybody is criticising only Balotelli, who was the only attacker who scored and the only one who created chances and showed the promise to score goals," Galliani told reporters in Milan.
"Nobody even noticed the other forwards, they didn't even show any promise. It seems like only Balotelli was eliminated with Italy. Clearly Balotelli is the only decent player Italy have got, considering everybody's talking about him only."
Galliani then added: "Balotelli is staying with Milan."
His words contradict those of Milan vice president and commercial manager Barbara Berlusconi, who last week said Balotelli is "not irreplaceable."
Opinion on the striker seems to be divided within the club, much like in Italy in general, with the player reportedly having caused friction within the national team dressing room.
La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Balotelli isolated himself from the rest of the Italy squad with his behaviour in Brazil, both in training and on the field.
"The dressing room accepts you if you show a team spirit and prove yourself on the field," read an editorial in the newspaper.
"They will even accept your extravagances, just as long as you win. It worked at Euro 2012, but for the two years after, and particularly at this World Cup, Mario has no longer been the one who showed his muscles against Germany, and the rest of the Azzurri have discarded him."