Mario Balotelli is vital to Italy’s cause, and so Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli risks being accused of double standards in order to make sure the AC Milan player is in his next squad.
Super Mario broke Prandelli’s code of conduct for the national team, when he was sent off at the end of Milan’s defeat to Napoli recently, earning a three-game ban for insulting the match officials.
Prandelli’s rules state that no player who shows indiscipline for his club should be allowed to represent his country.
Daniel Pablo Osvaldo was omitted from Italy’s Confederations Cup squad for an off-field indiscretion, but Prandelli says that Super Mario will not suffer a similar fate.
He says that because Balotelli’s ban expires after Milan play Juventus at the weekend, the striker will no longer be in the dog box when he names his squad to face Denmark and Armenia in Italy’s upcoming internationals.
"Balotelli’s suspension expires before I name my squad and not calling him up would be a punishment beyond the punishment he has already had," Prandelli told Rai TV.
"Milan were exemplary by not appealing the decision."
"Of course I am [disappointed], as is everybody who likes Mario," Prandelli said of Balotelli’s latest brush with the football authorities.
"I’ve spoken plenty of times about Balotelli and three times this week he has done something extraordinary technically and we’re all delighted.
"We see something truly important in him, but he’s got to get rid of a lot in a certain aspect of his game."
Balotelli has the same kind of enigmatic brilliance as players like Luis Suarez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
And so much to Osvaldo’s chagrin, you can bet that short of something truly despicable (which is not in Super Mario’s cartoonish character), Prandelli will always bend over backwards to pick him.