Ventura says Balotelli's Italy omission is due to non-football factors

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After a three-year absence from the national side the forward knows what he needs to do to play for Italy again, coach Giampiero Ventura said

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura says Mario Balotelli has been left out of the national team for non-footballing reasons, and the striker's future with the national team is in his own hands.

Balotelli last featured for Italy at the 2014 World Cup, despite a much-improved 2016-17 campaign during which he scored 17 goals for Ligue 1 side Nice.

Speaking ahead of his side's friendly against Uruguay, Ventura said the 33-time international, who is linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund, was aware what was needed from him.

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"It's not a technical quality problem, but otherwise," he said on Tuesday.

"I've never coached him, and when I met him I told him what his problem was with absolute clarity.

"I tried to make him understand his road back to be a major player in the national team.

"He cannot come back to be another number. This is the year of the World Cup and it's a choice he must make."

Italy are well-placed in qualifying for Russia 2018, sitting second to Spain but level on points with the Group G leaders.

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