Soccer: Prandelli says time for Balotelli to show maturity

Italy boss excited about partnership with El Shaarawy

Soccer: Prandelli says time for Balotelli to show maturity

Parma, November 14 - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said Wednesday that it is time for Mario Balotelli to prove he is a mature player and not just a fine potential talent. Balotelli's career has been dogged by indiscipline, rows with coaches and some bizarre off-field antics and the patience of his boss at Manchester City has reportedly run out. The 22-year-old has had limited playing time for the English champions so far this term and he did not even make the substitutes' bench for City's 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League last weekend. "The time has come for Mario Balotelli to show to everyone that he's a mature footballer," Prandelli told Rai television ahead of Wednesday's friendly against France in Parma. Balotelli is set to lead Italy's attack against the French alongside AC Milan's in-form 20-year-old forward Stephan El Shaarawy. While City are reportedly thinking of offloading Balotelli, the player, who has Ghanaian roots, is at the centre of Prandelli's plans. He justified the Azzurri coach's faith in him at Euro 2012 by helping Italy reach the final of the tournament in Ukraine and Poland with a stunning double in the 2-1 semi-final win over Germany. The player has also shown some of the footballing maturity Prandelli has called for in recent performances with Italy, by not reacting to fouls and provocation from opponents and helping out his teammates in defence. "I often say in jest that I'm the only one who manages to handle Mario," added Prandelli. "Maybe it's because I don't have him for long". Prandelli said he was excited at the prospect of Balotelli's partnership with El Shaarawy. "They are a cocktail of power and creativity," he said. "They have different qualities that can combine. They form an attack that is very interesting for the future".

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