AC Milan’s Riccardo Montolivo has downplayed the impact Mario Balotelli’s suspension will have on the club’s Champions League aspirations.
Balotelli was hit with a one-game ban after picking up his fifth booking of the season in last weekend’s draw at Fiorentina but he was further reprimanded for using offensive language towards the officials at the Artemio Franchi.
The prolific striker will now miss Milan’s crucial Serie A clash with second-placed Napoli on Sunday, as well as their subsequent clashes with Juventus and Cagliari, but Montolivo has no doubt that Massimiliano Allegri’s side can cope.
“Certainly, Balotelli’s impact in the league has been crazy,” Montolivo told Corriere dello Sport.
“But, in November, before Mario’s arrival, we had already started our run thanks to Giampaolo Pazzini.”
Indeed, Montolivo believes Milan have the players to challenge for silverware next season which, he freely admits, was precisely why he decided to leave Fiorentina for Milan last year.
“I would finally like to win something in my career,” he said.
“I spent seven years at Fiorentina, I gave everything I had, we had some exciting seasons and I was also captain, so I’m sorry that I was not welcomed back.
“But I’m only looking forward now. For me, it is a closed story.”