No time for prima donnas - Bonucci blames Balotelli for Italy omission


Prima donnas will not be suffered in the Italy squad, and that is why Leonardo Bonucci believes Mario Balotelli has not been offered the chance to go to Euro 2016.

The 25-year-old striker has been persistently criticised for an unprofessional attitude and lack of discipline throughout his career.

A lacklustre loan spell at AC Milan for the 2015-16 season in which he started just 10 matches and only scored three goals in all competitions proved the latest episode of of a career defined by underachievement.

Antonio Conte subsequently left Balotelli, who is set to return to Liverpool for next season, out of his preliminary Italy squad for the European Championship, and Bonucci believes he has paid the price for a lax attitude.

"Everything has always been in Mario's hands, he has to be intelligent to understand what has to change, but as of yet he hasn't done so," said the Juventus centre-back.

"He would have been useful to this team, but there's no time for us to be prima donnas, we have to be tanks that sacrifice themselves for their team-mates.

"If he understood this, he would become one of the best strikers in the world, but he still has time to do so.

"I say that in the hope it triggers something inside him and he can use his gifts to achieve personal satisfaction and rediscover this shirt."

Giampiero Ventura has been tipped to replace Conte as Italy coach when he leaves for Chelsea after Euro 2016, and the 68-year-old departed Torino on Wednesday.

Bonucci played his first full Serie A season under Ventura at Bari in 2009-10 and backed him to succeed if he is chosen as Conte's successor.

"I played 38 games for him in my debut Serie A season at Bari. If he were to be the new coach, he will instil a clear idea of how we play and that's what we need," added Bonucci.

"We're not that strong in terms of quality, so we'll have to improve on a tactical level, and he's really strong in that aspect."