Mario Balotelli has ridiculed suggestions from an Italian drug informant on Thursday that he dealt drugs "as a joke" in 2010.
The accusation stems from the AC Milan striker's visit to Naples three years ago, when he was shown around the notorious Scampia neighborhood by people associated with the Mafia - although the 22-year-old has insisted in the past that he was unaware of the criminal connections in the region.
At a court hearing in Italy, Armando De Rosa told prosecutors that Balotelli requested to peddle narcotics and said that the buyer of drugs was unaware of the footballer's identity, claiming, "We asked the client if he recognized Balotelli but he didn't have a clue [who he was]."
In response, the former Manchester City man slammed the media for reporting these suggestions and is of the opinion that his name is being dragged through the dirt to increase interest in the money-laundering case.
"AHAHAHAHA, they said I used prostitutes, next time maybe they'll say I take it up the...," the Italian wrote on his Twitter account, before subsequently deleting the tweet. "Be ashamed. Don't use me to boost your audience."
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli refused to be drawn on the subject, insisting Balotelli's comments would suffice given the "sensitive" nature of the issue.
“It seems to me that Mario has responded, so there’s nothing else to say,” he told a press conference on Thursday.
Prandelli said the subject "does not interest me at all" and that Balotelli will talk at the right time.
“This is a sensitive topic, these are serious matters and here we are talking about a joke," Prandelli said.
“We would always want to talk about football in a critical manner, but when dealing with other topics there is always trouble. These are serious issues and it is unclear if these are allegations or otherwise, but for us, what applies is what Mario has said."
Anti-Mafia investigators originally questioned Balotelli in September 2011 over his visit to Scampia, which he claimed he visited for "cultural reasons." There has never been any suggestion that the ex-Inter player has been involved in criminal activity.