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The 26-year-old praised the impact the striker has had following his January move from Manchester City, and says the team is "in good shape" ahead of the showdown with Fiorentina.

Ignazio Abate has hailed teammate Mario Balotelli as the "cherry on top" of the AC Milan squad.

The former Inter starlet has been in scintillating form since returning to Italy in January, netting seven times in as many games, a run of form which has propelled the Italian giant to third in Serie A and made the club a favorite to achieve Champions League qualification.

Abate, speaking to the club's official website, says the Rossoneri are benefiting from boasting a spine through the team which understands the core values of Milan and that is fronted by the prolific new striker.

"The president gave us Balotelli in January. He's the cherry on top our cake, he makes the team dangerous," he said.
"Now the spine of [a lasting] team is being built and it’s an Italian one that understands what it means to wear these colors."

The 26-year-old then turned his attention to Fiorentina ahead of next week's trip to Florence.

Milan is currently in pole position to secure the third and final Champions League spot ahead of the Viola, who trail Massimiliano Allegri's men by six points.

Abate says the team is well prepared for the clash due to the significance of the fixture.

"This is a team that plays with a knife between its teeth and we can make life difficult for any team," he added. "[The match against Fiorentina is a] big game for Champions League qualification, but right now we're in good shape both physically and mentally."

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