Football News

Andrea Pirlo tells Mario Balotelli to learn from a teenage Italy teammate

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 17:42, 27 March 2019

Andrea Pirlo has advised Mario Balotelli to follow the example of Moise Kean.

The 19-year-old Italian marksman wrote a piece of history when he scored on his first start for the Azzurri against Finland.

All about Kean: Four things to know…

  1. He is the first player born in the 2000s to compete in one of Europe’s five major leagues.
  2. Kean is the first player born in the 2000s to play in the Champions League.
  3. He is the first player born in the 2000s to score a goal in one of Europe’s big five leagues.
  4. Kean, after scoring against Finland (aged 19 years and 23 days old), became the second-youngest goalscorer in Italy history after Bruno Nicole (18 years and 253 days old) in 1958.

A sudden involvement with Juventus, having largely been an unused substitute by Max Allegri, forced the Vercelli-born teenager into Roberto Mancini’s national team plans.

He repaid Mancini’s faith in him by registering a goal in Italy’s impressive 2-0 win over Finland which happened to be his second appearance for the senior team and first start.

It also meant Kean became his country’s second-youngest ever goalscorer, aged 19 years and 23 days, behind only Bruno Nicole (18 years and 258 days) whose effort came against France in 1958.

His recent performances has put the spotlight on his rivals for Italy’s No.9 jersey, most notably Balotelli, who is enjoying life in Ligue 1.

But the 2006 World Cup winner Pirlo feels the Olympique Marseille marksman can take a leaf out of Kean’s book as he’s not wasted any confidence placed on him.

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“He put himself back into play and, in my opinion, contention for the national team,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport (via Football Italia).

“If he really accepts he has no more excuses, that alone would be a good sign. However, in the meantime it’s right that we call up Kean, given his performance in Udine.

“He hasn’t wasted the confidence placed in him and when he plays, he often scores goals. He offers a lot.”

Kean-Balotelli partnership? It’s possible

Balotelli ended a near four-year exile from the Italian national team when his former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini called him up to face Saudi Arabia in May 2018 – a game in which he duly scored. He would go on to feature in two of Italy’s following international matches but he’s not featured since.

Mancini, though, isn’t closing the door on Balotelli’s international future. Since joining Marseille in January he’s gone on to bag five goals across eight Ligue 1 matches. It’s put him in the picture and Italy’s boss isn’t ruling out a Balotelli-Kean tandem.

“It’s entirely possible,” he told reporters (via Football Italia). “Kean is still young, he can play in a variety of roles with no problems. We looked to Kean because we’ve seen him in training and when Lorenzo Insigne pulled out with injury, we needed someone with different characteristics.”