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The Italian forward feels his AC Milan and Azzurri team-mate has matured of late and the future is bright for both of them

Stephan El Shaarawy believes AC Milan and Italy team-mate Mario Balotelli is improving rapidly and could blossom into one of the world's best players.

The 22-year-old has been in fine form since moving to San Siro from Manchester City in January, and his strike partner for both club and country feels he could go all the way to the top, having matured.

"Mario is improving rapidly. I'm happy for him. He can become one of the top three players in the world," he told a press conference. 

"I'm glad that is growing, as a player and as a man. I can see [that he is] much more mature.

"Mario and I represent a young, new Italy. Investing in youth is the most important thing. I'm glad we're doing well, but we still have lots of room for improvement, to make Italy even better."

The 20-year-old was deployed on the left wing for the friendly draw with Brazil on Thursday and says he is happier in that role.

"Playing on the left in a 4-3-3  is the role that I prefer, because I play there for Milan. [Cesare] Prandelli asks the same things of me as Allegri."

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