By Rahul Bali
Former Inter youth team coach Marco Monti has told Goal.com that he believes his former charge, Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli, has the potential to be as good as Barcelona's Lionel Messi or Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Since his arrival in England from the Nerazzuri in 2010, 21-year-old Balotelli has found as many ways of staying in the news through his off-field antics as he has for his feats on the pitch, with his manager, Roberto Mancini, simply explaining: "He's Mario. He's crazy."
Goal.com spoke to Monti, now the technical director of the project Inter academy, about the enigmatic striker.
“Balotelli is a particular character," the 44-year-old explained.
"He has a big football potential but he is not an easy guy. When he was young, he had a lot of problems, family problems.
"Sometimes he is crazy but he is also positive for play. He can do what he wants.
"There are some players during the training session who are fantastic but, during the official match, they are not good. Mario is the contrary.
“If you see him during training sessions, he doesn’t want to work sometimes. But when he plays, he always wants to play to win. This is his capacity.
"I think he needs time and experience to complete his mind. Like I mentioned, he is one of the most important examples of talent in football.”
Balotelli himself has stated that he could reach the level of the celebrated Messi and Ronaldo, something which Mancini has echoed.
“Yes, he has the same potential. He is a different player but he has the same potential," Monti enthused.
"He needs time. Messi has another character. Mario needs time to complete himself but I think he can arrive to this level of a player."