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Ventura says Balotelli's Italy omission is due to non-football factors

Goal.com logo Goal.com 06-06-2017
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Italy coach Giampiero Ventura says Mario Balotelli has been left out of the national team for non-footballing reasons, and the striker's future with the national team is in his own hands.

Balotelli last featured for Italy at the 2014 World Cup, despite a much-improved 2016-17 campaign during which he scored 17 goals for Ligue 1 side Nice.

Speaking ahead of his side's friendly against Uruguay, Ventura said the 33-time international, who is linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund, was aware what was needed from him.

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"It's not a technical quality problem, but otherwise," he said on Tuesday.

"I've never coached him, and when I met him I told him what his problem was with absolute clarity.

"I tried to make him understand his road back to be a major player in the national team.

"He cannot come back to be another number. This is the year of the World Cup and it's a choice he must make."

Italy are well-placed in qualifying for Russia 2018, sitting second to Spain but level on points with the Group G leaders.

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