AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri praised the impact Mario Balotelli has made since his January arrival from Manchester City.
The striker was instrumental in Milan’s 1-0 win at Chievo on Saturday that saw them consolidate third place on the table.
Chievo keeper Christian Puggioni could only parry the 22-year-old’s free-kick towards the onrushing Riccardo Montolivo for his goal, helping a rejuvenated Milan to register their fourth consecutive win in a quest for second place.
And Balotelli’s ability at dead-ball situations, combined with his work ethic and maturing temperament, has drawn Allegri to hail his enigmatic striker’s progress.
“I think he is playing very well,” Allegri said.
“Fortunately in January, he arrived. We have nobody else at Milan who takes free kicks as dangerously as Balotelli. He is a tremendous value to us.
“He also behaved well out there tonight. He suffered a few blows and might have earned a yellow (card), but he never risked anything after that.
“He is certainly developing into a protagonist who is feeling accountable to his team-mates, with his desires to continuously do more for his team.”
Balotelli’s purple patch since his move back to Italy has coincided with fellow San Siro sensation Stephan El Shaarawy’s ongoing goal drought, and Allegri has stepped forward to urge the young striker to not become obsessed with scoring.
“He must remain calm. It is not always possible to score and every game with a goal,” the 45-year-old said.
“What is important is that the team wins. He improved greatly after the break, after enduring a poorer first half.”
El Shaarawy has managed 16 goals in Serie A this term, but has only found the back of the net twice in his last 13 league appearances.