Mario Balotelli may have notched a goal and assist on his return to action with Milan but coach Sinisa Mihajlovic insisted the striker is not ready for Serie A.
In his first match for Milan since returning to the San Siro on loan from Liverpool, Balotelli struck a stunning early goal in Thursday’s 3-2 friendly win over Mantova, while the 25-year-old set up his team’s second.
The performance prompted plenty of excitement amongst the media and fans but Mihajlovic was far from impressed.
“Balotelli? We played a team from Serie C; we see that he is not in good condition and must improve,” the Serbian coach was quoted as saying by Premium Sport.
The controversial forward was not the only player to disappoint Mihajlovic, who generally started those who have yet to earn Serie A action this season.
“If we think we win because we’re called Milan, we’re not going anywhere,” he said.
“It was a game we needed to put minutes into our legs; when one does not play, you should not complain because… tonight many have shown they do not deserve to play.”
In perhaps a boost for Balotelli’s confidence, however, Mihajlovic did concede that “perhaps the attack is the one [area of the pitch] with fewer problems”.
Asked about his performance at half-time, Balotelli said: “Pleased with the goal assist. How am I physically? Good!”
Milan eventually prevailed thanks to a penalty from second-half substitute Luiz Adriano, who has scored three goals in his past four matches for Mihajlovic’s side.