The new Italy manager Giampiero Ventura says Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is “at a crossroads” in his career.
Balotelli has 33 caps for his country but was left out of Italy’s Euro 2016 squad after a disappointing season on loan at AC Milan.
The striker scored three goals in 23 games at the San Siro last season and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told the 25-year-old to find a new club.
“In terms of his character, he could do much better,” Ventura said.
“The fact he’s not playing at Milan, that Liverpool have abandoned him, means that he is at a crossroads.
“The few times that Balotelli has really wanted to be a footballer, he has shown his quality. I have no prejudice, but his football must do the talking.”
Ventura, who takes over from new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, also said that players who move to ‘lesser leagues’ risk damaging their international careers, after Southampton striker Graziano Pelle joined Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng.
Ventura said: “Players need to have a desire to win, going to a lesser league doesn’t help in that regard.
“As for Pelle, apart from his missed penalty (in the Euro 2016 quarter-final defeat to Germany), he had a positive campaign. But China is far away. Let’s see why he moved.”