New Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Saturday recalled Nice striker Mario Balotelli for three friendlies against Saudi Arabia, France and the Netherlands. The 27-year-old Balotelli has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for the Azzurri but has not been selected since Italy’s humiliating group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup. Balotelli was last called up by coach Antonio Conte in November 2014 but did not play because of injury.
He has resurrected his career since joining Nice in 2016 after less successful spells with AC Milan and Liverpool. Mancini was appointed last Monday, six months after Gian Piero Ventura was sacked following the four-time world champions’ failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958. Mancini coached Balotelli at Inter Milan and Manchester City and takes charge of his first game against the Saudis in St Gallen, Switzerland on May 28. The Italians will play further friendlies against France in Nice on June 1 and the Netherlands, who also failed to reach the World Cup, three days later in Turin.