Mario Balotelli has the quality to return to international football but has to do more for his club Brescia to earn a recall, according to Italy manager Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli joined the promoted side to much fanfare at the beginning of this season, returning to the town where he spent his childhood.
However, he has found the net just five times in Serie A this campaign, and hasn’t done enough to merit a call-up in the eyes of his former manager at Manchester City.
“[Balotelli], in terms of the qualities he has he is one of the best around, but that’s not enough,” Mancini told Sky Sport.
“He has to give more; at Brescia he hasn’t done a lot and he knows it. Our hope is to have him at 100 per cent, like in 2012 under [Cesare] Prandelli.”
Some of Balotelli’s best performances for his country came at Euro 2012, where he finished joint top-scorer with three goals in the tournament to help Italy to the final.
In the past five years, though, he has made just three appearances – with all three of those caps coming back in 2018.
Mancini was readying his side for Euro 2020 but, with the tournament postponed until the summer of 2021, he hopes the younger members of his squad have more time to develop.
“None of us would have wanted the Euros to be postponed, especially for this reason,” he added. “So many people have died and football becomes secondary.
“Right now, we have a young squad and we can still improve.
“We would have had a chance this year, but there were teams who were more prepared and started earlier, or those who already imposed themselves like France.
“With an extra year the guys will be able to improve by playing important games, so in this sense the national team will improve.
“But we will have to see the games, because with matches being closer to each other we might have less time to prepare.
“We’ve started a project that we can still improve, this is why having more time will help us.”