Mario Balotelli is set to end a four-year international exile after Roberto Mancini named the Nice striker in his first squad as Italy boss.
Balotelli is a long-time favourite of Mancini’s and played under the newly installed head coach at Inter and Manchester City.
The 27-year-old fell from favour during the reigns of Antonio Conte and Gian Piero Ventura but, following disappointing spells at Liverpool and AC Milan, the enigmatic forward has rediscovered his form in Ligue 1.
A return of 43 goals in two seasons at Nice has been rewarded by Mancini, who has included five uncapped players in his 30-man group to take on Saudi Arabia, France and Netherlands – games that represent the start of a rebuilding project following the Azzurri’s failure to reach the 2018 World Cup.
Chelsea wing-back Emerson Palmieri, Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara, Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli, Crotone’s Rolando Mandragora and Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi are all in line for maiden appearances at full international level.
Mancini’s squad will convene at the Italian Football Federation’s Coverciano headquarters on Wednesday, five days before they face Saudi Arabia in St Gallen.
They will take on France at Balotelli’s present stomping ground of the Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 1 before hosting Netherlands in Turin on June 4
Italy’s 30-man squad for the friendlies against Saudi Arabia, France and Italy:
Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino); Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Domenico Criscito (Zenit), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea); Daniele Baselli (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Jorginho (Napoli), Rolando Mandragora (Crotone), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma); Mario Balotelli (Nice), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Simone Zaza (Valencia)
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