Prandelli pledges to help Balotelli
Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has revealed that he intends to support under-fire Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli and help aid his development on and off the pitch.
Balotelli, 20, has endured a turbulent time in the north west since joining Roberto Mancini's side from Inter Milan in the summer. Mancini lauded Balotelli as an "exciting player'' whose style would suit the Premier League upon completing the £24 million deal in August 2010.
However, it is moments of indiscretion rather than magic that has peppered his stay with Manchester City. In Balotelli's 21 appearances for City he has already picked up nine yellow cars and two reds, with the most recent coming for planting his studs into the chest and thigh of Dynamo Kiev defender Goran Popov last week.
The Europa League sending-off has resulted in his omission from the Italy squad as manager Prandelli looks to implement a new ethical code. But speaking ahead of Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovenia, Prandelli has promised to support Balotelli.
"For Mario, the important thing is that there is a reflection on his mistakes,'' Prandelii told Rai. "He has felt this unease and is regretful. He has asked for help and we will stay close to him to help in his development.''
While Balotelli can be a disruptive influence, he is considered one of the most gifted players produced in Italy over recent years. Such a dearth of young talent has led some to argue the well of Azzurri talent is drying up, leading Prandelli to admit that Italy need to go back to basics.
"The moment has come for us to have faith in the former greats of our football and learn from them,'' he Prandelli said. "My rallying cry is work, work, work. And I strongly believe in Italy's renewal.
"I don't find the great number of talented players Slovenia are producing to be unbelievable. Nothing is unbelievable if there is planning and your idea of football is cultivated. Another Franco Baresi will emerge, of that I am sure.''