Former AC Milan defender Christian Panucci says Mario Balotelli's status as a "top player" is a sign of just how low Italian football's standards have fallen in recent years.
The 41-year-old, who now works as a television pundit, was a member of the Rossoneri side that routed Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League final of 1994, at a time when Serie A was the richest and most dominant domestic competition in world football.
Things have now changed dramatically, though, according to Panucci, who is astounded by the fact that Balotelli - who was involved in an explosive post-game interview with the ex-Real Madrid defender and his Sky Sport Italia colleagues on Friday night - is considered a world-class player by many of his compatriots.
"If Italian football is so low, it's because we think that Mario Balotelli is a top player," the former Azzurri ace told Sky Sport Italia.
"If there was one thing that Milan once had it was a respect for one's role. In difficult moments, this helped immediately resolve the problem.
"So we don't need to wonder about his actions; we should accept them.
"The great champions are other players. Milan is the only team in which he's always been a starter, up until now."