AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf says Mario Balotelli has yet to reach his full potential, but when he does, he will become a legend.
The Italy international was substituted by Seedorf during the 3-1 defeat to Napoli last Saturday. After taking his place on the bench, Balotelli started crying, covering his head with his coat to hide his sorrow.
Confirmation that he was the father of a child with his former girlfriend has been suggested as the root of his emotional outburst, which has also come about at the same time as a drop in form, but Seedorf remains convinced he can be one of the best players in the world.
"Mario doesn't have to improve anything," Seedorf said at a news conference. "Everybody can have a game where nothing goes right, but he's got talent and we all hope he will explode to become the true great that he isn't yet.
"He just needs consistency. His tears are water under the bridge. He's serene now. The Mario who jokes and trains well is back. He's only human too."
While Seedorf is convinced Balotelli has a star future, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is predicting the same for the new Milan coach.
"I have a great deal of faith in him," Prandelli said at workshop on youth football in Cesena. "He was the professor on the field and he studied well while he's still studying now and he has a great personality.
"I've always maintained that anybody who comes through the coaching course in Coverciano must necessarily then gain experience with a youth team, but for Clarence it's different. I'm convinced he has the right mentality to cope with the pressure."
That pressure will only rise ahead of Milan's clash with Atletico Madrid next Wednesday, when Seedorf faces the first major test of his reign in the Champions League.
With a top-three finish in Serie A looking increasingly unlikely, success in Europe is critical to salvaging something from a difficult season for the Rossoneri.