|Is the offer of a World Cup berth enough to tempt Balotelli? [GALLO/GETTY]|
With six months left before the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Ghana’s coach Milovan Rajevac is plotting to improve the quality of his side.
His target? Italy’s Under-21 forward and Inter Milan player Mario Balotelli.
The 19-year-old Balotelli grew up in Italy but is of Ghanaian decent and would be eligible for a call-up from Rajevac because he has never played for the Azzurri at full international level.
Italy coach Marcello Lippi has so far showed no interest in selecting Balotelli.
“After the World Cup draw I’ll go to Europe. I have a series of meetings planned with my players in the European (domestic) championship and my intention is to speak with Balotelli,” Rajevac told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The idea is to go to Bologna to meet our captain Stephen Appiah and get him to accompany me to Milan to meet Mario and (Sulley) Muntari.
“I’m happy with the strikers I have but Balotelli has exceptional qualities. Who wouldn’t want someone like that? He’s young, he plays in a big team and he’s very, very good.”
Balotelli turned down the chance to play for Ghana in a friendly against Senegal in 2007.
But the timing is interesting.
The teenager is at the centre of a storm over racism in Italy’s Serie A ahead of this weekend’s match between Inter and Juventus, after repeatedly being the victim of racist and offensive chants, especially from Juve fans.
There have also been rumours about a potential move to English Premier League club Arsenal following remarks made by Inter coach Jose Mourinho who has criticised Balotelli’s attitude recently.
Inter have played down the speculation.
“Balotelli is not on the market and he will not be in January,” Mourinho said earlier in the week.
“Mario is a young boy who needs to adjust his behaviour to suit his team-mates and the coach.
“It’s only a matter of time before that happens and I believe there are no problems. There is no chance of him being sold.”
Balotelli may stay in Milan for the time being, but is the offer of a debut World Cup appearance at the tender age of 19 enough to tempt him?