Milan defender Ignazio Abate feels the time has come for striker Mario Balotelli to “carry the team”.
Balotelli made his first appearance since agreeing to a season-long switch from Liverpool in the derby defeat to Inter and was a threat in his time on the pitch, rattling the post from distance before coming close with a fierce late effort.
While he has warned against piling too much pressure on the Italy international’s shoulders, Abate has challenged Balotelli to prove his quality to the Rossoneri over the remainder of 2015-16.
“It’s going to be a tough match against Palermo. They will be coming up against a Milan side out to win, however, and one that will want to put in a good performance,” he told Milan Channel.
“Let’s also hope that Balotelli can give us a big hand. He is training really well and he played well in the derby. He will be a key player, but let’s not put too much pressure on him.
“He needs to find his form, but he has everything in place and all the qualities to achieve that. The moment has come for him to carry the team.”
Milan have lost two of their opening three Serie A games this season, but Abate says they can send a message to the rest of Italy if they sustain the intensity of their derby performance.
“We need to play again with the spirit from the derby and the attacking approach. If we do that, I think we can come away with a result,” said the 28-year-old.
“I think we gave a good performance in the derby and we defended well. We played a good match and we gave away very little.
“We have some quality players. We need to send a sign to the other teams. We want to go far but we need to be focused on picking up a string of positive results.
“Without putting pressure on ourselves and taking things one game at a time, we have the abilities to achieve that.”