Daniele Bonera has called on AC Milan team-mate Mario Balotelli to finally "prove himself the best" striker in the world.
The enigmatic forward made a sensational start to his Rossoneri career after joining from Manchester City 12 months ago, scoring 12 goals in 13 Serie A appearances as he played a key role in helping the club he supports qualify for the Champions League.
However, he has proven less prolific this season as he continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons and Milan were recently forced to deny that club owner Silvio Berlusconi has decided to offload Balotelli.
Bonera believes that it is now up to Balotelli to prove his worth to the Rossoneri and belatedly realise his full potential.
"It depends solely on him," the defender told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I believe that the moment has arrived for him to put into practice this desire of his to prove himself the best."
It has been a season of constant consternation at Milan, with the side currently languishing in 13th place in Serie A.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri has already stated that he has enjoyed his last Christmas at San Siro and speculation is rife that he will be replaced at the end of the season by former Rossoneri midfielder Clarence Seedorf.
Bonera, for his part, is unsure if the Dutchman is the right man for the job and also feels that Allegri's achievements should not be overlooked.
"He has never changed his attitude, in success and in defeat," the centre-half revealed. "I understand that there have been bad results in recent months, but we can not forget the previous three years. Allegri has done a good job.
"I can judge Clarence as a player, but as a coach, he's an unknown, though we're not short on examples of quick and successful moves from the pitch to the bench. In Italy, [Roberto] Mancini comes to mind."
Despite Milan's struggles, Bonera is having a fine campaign and freely admits that is now dreaming of a recall to the Italy squad.
"Three months ago I had a fractured patella and if anyone had asked me if I was thinking of the World Cup, I would have laughed," he admitted.
"But [Italy coach Cesare] Prandelli knows me, he trained me, he knows where to find me. If he wants me for Brazil, I'm ready."