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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Mario Balotelli's next Italy call-up 'only a matter of time' - Gianfranco Zola

Alison Bender and Gabriele Marcotti discuss the news that Mario Balotelli has been overlooked for a place in the latest Italy squad.

Former Italy international Gianfranco Zola says it's only a matter of time before Mario Balotelli returns to the Azzurri setup.

Balotelli, whose seven goals in nine league games has led Nice to the Ligue 1 summit this season, has not played for his country since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The former Inter Milan and Manchester City man is currently sidelined with a calf injury. However, Zola told Omnisport another call-up for his country is inevitable.

"It seems to me that he is working very...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Marco Verratti not tested enough in France - Italy coach Giampiero Ventura

Marco Verratti joined PSG in 2012.

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura has criticised the standard of Ligue 1, insisting that Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti is not being tested enough in France.

Ventura has already hit out at MLS and his comment that he didn't call up Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco because he "plays in a league that doesn't count for much" drew criticism.

However, the 68-year-old has now claimed that Verratti would be better off returning to Serie A.

"I've said it before and I'll...

 By Ben Gladwell

Italy boss Giampiero Ventura to meet Mario Balotelli before next matches

Alison Bender and Gabriele Marcotti discuss the news that Mario Balotelli has been overlooked for a place in the latest Italy squad.

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura has said he will talk to Nice striker Mario Balotelli before he selects his next squad in March.

Balotelli's outstanding form for the Ligue 1 club has brought calls for him to return to the Italy team for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.

But although Ventura has overlooked the former Manchester City and Liverpool forward for his last two squads, he said the door was not closed to him.

"Balotelli's not a player for a training camp -- we're talking about a player...

Italy boss Giampiero Ventura calls up 22 youngsters for training camp

Craig Burley and Gab Marcotti don't necessarily agree with Giampiero Ventura's team selection vs. Germany.
Italy boss Giampiero Ventura is relaxed about being compared with his predecessor Antonio Conte.
Manuel Locatelli scored the only goal in Milan's win over Juventus.
Manuel Locatelli was one of the call-ups to Giampiero Ventura's senior Italy camp.

ROME -- Teenage AC Milan midfielder Manuel Locatelli is among 22 young players who Italy coach Giampiero Ventura has called up for a three-day training camp next week.

Locatelli burst onto the scene this season with goals against Sassuolo and Juventus, converting the first two on-target Serie A shots of his career.

Milan forward Gianluca Lapadula, who recently scored his first Serie A goal, was also called up.

Seven players were included from Atalanta, who are fifth in Serie A, including Roberto...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Argentina, Netherlands, Japan and Ghana in danger of missing World Cup

Alejandro Moreno talks how Brazil and Argentina are looking following the latest round of World Cup qualifiers.

With 12 months to go before we know the 31 teams who will join hosts Russia at the 2018 World Cup, we take a look at some of the major nations and familiar names who appear to have a battle on their hands to make the finals.

Argentina and Chile

Argentina's 3-0 defeat in Brazil last week left them facing a huge crisis in their qualification bid. However, victory at home to Colombia on Tuesday averted this for now, as at least that win left them fifth and that offers a playoff against the winners of...