Mario Balotelli included in Mancini’s first Italy squad
MILAN (AP) — Mario Balotelli could make his first appearance for Italy in nearly four years after the Nice forward was named in a 30-man squad by new coach Roberto Mancini on Saturday.
Balotelli last played for Italy in the 2014 World Cup, where the Azzurri was eliminated at the group stage. He was called up by Antonio Conte in November of that year but was forced to withdraw from the squad with injury.
At Euro 2012, Balotelli’s goals helped Italy reach the final. He scored 13 in 33 appearances for the Azzurri and at 27 is coming off a strong season, which has seen him score 26 in all competitions.
Mancini, who worked with Balotelli at Inter Milan and Manchester City, was confirmed as Italy’s new coach on Monday, hours after leaving Zenit St. Petersburg by mutual consent.
Mancini replaced Gian Piero Ventura, who was fired in November after four-time champion Italy lost a World Cup playoff to Sweden and failed to qualify for the tournament for the first time in six decades.
Mancini has named five new players in his first squad: Chelsea defender Emerson Palmieri, Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara, Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli, Crotone midfielder Rolando Mandragora and Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi.
Roma captain Daniele de Rossi has been left out.
Mancini’s first match in charge will be against Saudi Arabia in Switzerland on May 28 followed by France and the Netherlands. His first official match will come in the new Nations League in September.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino).
Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea).
Midfielders: Daniele Baselli (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Jorginho (Napoli), Rolando Mandragora (Crotone), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma).
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Nice), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Simone Zaza (Valencia).