Mario Balotelli has hit back at Italy coach Roberto Mancini’s complaint about a lack of options in the attacking department, insisting that there are “Italian strikers who are fit”. The striker’s comments were made in an Instagram post after Mancini expressed concern about the fitness of his forwards during the current international break, with the injury of Ciro Immobile leaving only Gianluca Scamacca, Wilfried Gnonto, and Mateo Retegui as the three center-forwards available for the Azzurri. Retegui, an Argentina-born striker, made his Italy debut against England on Thursday and scored on his debut.
Balotelli, who has not played for Italy since 2018, disagrees with Mancini’s assessment and believes there are plenty of options for the coach. “There are strikers in Italy and they are fit, trust me,” he wrote in an Instagram story. Balotelli added a second story, saying: “Regret is the feeling of those who regularly don’t learn the lesson and get there once it’s all finished. Or simply, they never get there.”
Balotelli has been a controversial figure throughout his career, but he has been in good form this season for Swiss side FC Sion, scoring five goals in 14 league games. He has a decent record for Italy, scoring 14 goals in 36 appearances since making his debut in August 2010.
Mancini has been facing criticism for his team selection in recent weeks, with some pundits questioning his decision to leave out several key players. The injury to Immobile has only added to his problems, leaving him with limited options up front. However, Retegui’s impressive performance against England has given him a boost and he will be hoping that his side can continue their good form as they prepare for this summer’s European Championships.
It remains to be seen whether Balotelli’s comments will have any impact on Mancini’s thinking, but the striker’s confidence in Italy’s attacking options will be reassuring for fans. With the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa, and Domenico Berardi also available to Mancini, Italy have plenty of firepower in their squad. Whether they can translate that into success on the pitch remains to be seen, but Balotelli’s comments will give them hope that they can compete with the best teams in Europe.