Giorgio Chiellini has ripped into former Italy team mate Mario Balotelli who, he claims, let down his country at the 2013 Confederations Cup.
Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini has aimed a blistering tirade at former Italy team-mate Mario Balotelli, accusing him of being a negative person who has no respect for the team. The pair were team-mates in the national side for several years, starting out when Balotelli was a maverick young striker who looked set to achieve great things.
Balotelli “negative and disrespectful”
In a new autobiography, Chiellini snaps at his former colleague, writing: “Balotelli is a negative person, without respect for the squad. At the Confederations Cup, in 2013, he didn’t give us a hand in anything, stuff that deserves a slap. Someone said he was among the five best players in the world but I wouldn’t rate him even among the top 10 or 20 players”.
During the tournament in question, Balotelli scored twice, including a penalty, in the group stage, before a thigh injury ruled him out of the semi-final against Spain, who went on to beat Italy on penalties.
Balotelli was a Milan player at the time and has since had spells with Liverpool, Nice and Olympique de Marseille, and more recently Brescia – the latest stop-off in a varied career.
Chiellini was more brutal when it came to assessing former Juve colleague Felipe Melo, the Brazilian midfielder who played for the Bianconeri from 2009 to 2011. “Even worse was Felipe Melo: the worst of the worst. There was always a fight with him. I also told the managers: he’s a rotten apple”.
He backed up his comments in an interview with Saturday’s edition of La Repubblica, saying: “I confirm it, but I have no grudge and nor am I interested in having one. If I have to share something with them, I will. I’m not everyone’s best friend, but they are the only two who have gone beyond an acceptable limit. For me, the problem is not if you play well, badly or if you sometimes have an evening out, but if you lack respect and have nothing inside. Once, it’s fine, if it’s recurring, it’s not.”
Chiellini added that at first, he couldn’t stand Gonzalo Higuaín but grew to liking the Argentine striker: “All strikers are selfish but Higuaín surprised me once I got to know him. He’s funny and generous and needs a bit of TLC to get the best out of him”.