Italian World Cup winner Dino Zoff has lavished praise on Mario Balotelli, claiming the Manchester City man can prove a valuable asset to his country during next summer European Championships.

The City forward has seen a tempestuous relationship with club manager Roberto Mancini mare the first 12 months of his City career.

Under Cesare Prandelli, Italy comfortably qualified for Euro 2012, and Zoff expects Balotelli to be the country's wide-card come the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

“Prandelli has done an excellent job,” Zoff said. “However, it was hard to believe that the side wouldn’t pick themselves up after their horrible World Cup.

 

“It’s true that there are a lot of foreigners playing over here, but the Italian championship always offers good solutions.”

Zoff added: “Mario Balotelli has notable potential and he could be an added value to this team.

“But the need for a powerful striker depends on how the team moves and what the smaller attacking players can offer with their class and speed.

“The important thing is to have attackers in your squad who know where the goal is.”

Despite turning in match winning performances against the likes of Everton and Blackburn Rovers in recent weeks, the attitude of the 21-year-old has often led to fracas with Mancini, or on the pitch.

In his first three months at City, Balottelli was sent off twice, against West Bromwich Albion and Dynamo Kiev, raising questions over whether the forward has the temperament to cut it in the Barclays Premier League.

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