Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Thiago Motta has praised Nice striker Mario Balotelli, adding he “has found the right environment” at the Ligue 1 club.
Nice currently lead defending French champions PSG by three points at the top of the table and Balotelli has scored six goals in six league appearances since arriving in the summer from Liverpool.
Speaking with Gazzetta dello Sport, Motta talked up his Italian compatriot’s chances of an international return but conceded he will “have to be a team player” to return to the Azzurri once again.
“Mario has found the right environment in Nice,” Motta added. “He is not in top physical condition but he has time to be decisive again.
“To be useful to Italy he will also have to be a team player and join the group, even if he does not play. Also because [Andrea] Belotti and [Ciro] Immobile are working hard.”
Balotelli, who has struggled in recent years during spells at Liverpool and AC Milan, was not the only Italian player Motta had positive words for.
The Brazilian-born midfielder also had plenty of praise for PSG teammate Marco Verratti, who he says “has to believe in his destiny as a top player” now he is “a more mature man.”
“Verratti is not only the future but the present of the national team,” Motta said. “There is no-one of his level in Italy and he can play on par with the German [world] champions, though maybe he plays in a different role for the Azzurri.”
Motta also confirmed recent speculation that he is likely to leave PSG next summer when his contract with the Ligue 1 club expires.
The former Inter Milan man said he could move on and play for another club next season — either in another major European league or a developing competition somewhere else in the world — but retirement and a switch into coaching is not being ruled out either.
“PSG is like my home,” Motta said. “Over these past five seasons, I have always given everything to win and to contribute towards the growth of this project. So, I think this will be my last year in Paris as a player.
“I can still play at a high level and also in emerging and challenging leagues. I could also start coaching though. When and where will depend on which projects I am offered but I will always decide everything in sync with [PSG] president [Nasser] Al-Khelaifi.”