Mario Balotelli: Ranieri urges Italy to give Nice star a chance - Sports Illustrated

Claudio Ranieri Urges Italian National Team to Give Mario Balotelli a Chance

Ranieri believes Balotelli's form at Nice merits a call-up to the Italian national team.
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Ex-Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri has called upon the Italian national team to give striker Mario Balotelli a chance to re-prove himself on the international stage. 

The 27-year-old has revived his career at Nice, scoring 22 goals in 31 appearances across all competitions this season. Ranieri believes that this form deserves an Italy call up. 

Speaking to the Italian media, via Ligue1.com, current Nantes boss Ranieri said: "In France, he makes the difference. He needs a test with the Nazionale to see if the boy has matured."

The current Azzurri manager, Luigi Di Biagio, snubbed Balotelli from the recent friendlies that Italy had against Argentina and England, instead opting with other Italian strikers Ciro Immobile, Andrea Belotti and Patrick Cutrone. 

The manager could have a bias towards choosing players from the Serie A, with all of these strikers, other than Immobile, not scoring matching Balotelli's goalscoring feats this season. 

In fact, Belotti in particular has endured a disappointing season with Torino this campaign, scoring only six goals in the Serie A in 20 starts. This compared with his total last season of 26 goals is poor and arguably should have been met with a removal from the international squad to give other strikers a deserved chance. 

Nonetheless, with the form that Balotelli is showing, it cannot be long until he is finally included in the Italian national squad, especially considering the squad are lacking a consistent goalscorer at the moment.