Roma and Italy star Daniele De Rossi has rejected claims that he criticised Mario Balotelli during the World Cup 2014. The striker, who recently moved to Liverpool in a £ 16 million deal from AC Milan, reportedly put his pictures in the entire World Cup sticker album. De Rossi is reported to have said that Italy do not need Balotelli, who was a major disappointment at the World Cup 2014 after scoring just one goal in three matches. Ironically, the 24-year-old striker has been left out of the latest Italy squad announced by new manager Antonio Conte.
The Roma midfielder has clarified his comments by saying that he did not mean to criticise Balotelli with his ‘Panini stickers’ comments. Instead, he said that he was just trying to say that the Italian national team needs people with a lot of fire in order to get back to the top. Italy are going through a difficult phase where they have faced a lot of criticism after failing to get past the group stages of the second consecutive World Cup. Even though they did well at the Euro 2012 under Cesare Prandelli, this disappointment has been too much to take for the former Fiorentina boss who resigned from his post after the tournament.
Conte has been appointed as his replacement and he will be in charge of the team until the Euro 2016. “I didn’t criticise Balotelli. What I meant with Panini stickers was that we need real men. I did not know that Balotelli had a picture of himself with all the stickers being of him. What I said was misinterpreted,” said the midfielder, who was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League with Balotelli’s former club Manchester City for several years. Italy managed to win the recent friendly against Netherlands 2-0.