After being dropped by Brendan Rodgers from the Liverpool team that faced West Brom at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, there was more bad news for striker Mario Balotelli when he was left out of the Italy squad for the upcoming games against Azerbaijan and Malta.
Rodgers lost patience with his big-money summer signing after failing to find the net in four Premier League outings. After coming on as a second half substitute against the Baggies, Balotelli has now scored just once in eight appearances for the Reds since joining from AC Milan in August.
Hot on the heels of being left out by Rodgers came the news that new Italy boss Antonio Conte had also overlooked the 24-year-old for next week’s Euro 2016 qualification double-header.
Conte also left the enigmatic front-man out of the squad for the victory over Norway last month.
It seems that another in-form Premier League striker has jumped ahead of Balotelli in the pecking order. Southampton’s Graziano Pelle earned his first call-up to the Azzurri squad after hitting the net five times for the Saints this season.
The warning signs were there for Balotelli after Rodgers warned he must improve on the slow start he has made to his Anfield career.
“In terms of goals he needs to improve, it is as simple as that,” said Rodgers. “Not just him but any striker is judged on goals and at this moment he hasn’t probably hit the numbers he would want to.”
The Liverpool boss already appears to doubting the choice made by the club in recruiting a replacement for Luis Suarez.
Italy are 1.28 to win qualifying Group H for Euro 2016, ahead of Croatia at 4.50