The 2016 European Championship will be without one of the biggest entertainers in football.
Mario Balotelli, the joint-top scorer at Euro 2012, failed to make the Italy squad to compound a difficult season for the Liverpool man.
The striker endured a troubled campaign while on-loan at AC Milan, starting only eight league games and scoring three times in all competitions.
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Balotelli will be a part of Euro 2016, though, but as a columnist for Goal. We won’t be seeing that bare-chest of his anytime soon.
The 25-year-old, who is expected to leave Liverpool in the summer, named his Euro 2016 best XI and for a player who has caused so much controversy over the years, there can be little debate when it comes to his dream side.
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The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gareth Bale are all included in an XI that resembles a team someone would put together on Football Manager.
Check out Balotelli’s team below.
It’s near-impossible to pick holes with that team. The front four of Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Bale combined to score 154 goals this season and each is a contender to be top scorer at the tournament in France.
The inclusion of only two Italy players is noteworthy. In the four years since the Azzurri reached the final of Euro 2012, they were knocked out of the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and are now ranked 12th in FIFA’s world rankings.
Balotelli will no doubt hope Antonio Conte’s team can go one step further than they did in 2012, when they were demolished by Spain in the final.
It was a tournament in which the former Inter Milan striker showed signs that he can be one of the world’s best forwards. He hit two sublime goals in the semi-final win over Germany, but we all know how a lack of discipline has hurt his career.
He now finds himself with an uncertain future. AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed that he will return to Liverpool but Jurgen Klopp has no interest in keeping him around, according to The Guardian.
Moves to China or Monaco have been speculated and should Balotelli arrive in the Chinese Super League or Ligue 1, it would be a clear sign that no knowledgeable manager thinks they can solve Balotelli’s attitude issues.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers thought he could when he signed the Italian from AC Milan for £16 million in 2014 but what a mistake that turned out to be.