Mario Balotelli is struggling for form because he is “not quite there psychologically”, according to AC Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
Balotelli was left out of Milan’s starting XI to face Chievo in Serie A on Sunday and urged to “help himself” by fully applying himself in training.
“It is not punishment to leave someone out,” Mihajlovic said at his pre-match press conference. “For our style of football, it is necessary to have players at 100 per cent. I told the lads that the system only counts to a certain degree.
“Just look at the spirit Juventus showed against Sassuolo, maintaining that hunger even after four consecutive Scudetti.
In terms of attitude, they are a step above the rest, as players like Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala sacrifice themselves to work for the team. That must be our objective too.”
Asked specifically about Balotelli, on loan from Liverpool, Mihajlovic said: “I think his physical condition is good, but psychologically he’s not quite there yet. He needs to improve mentally, but that has always been his problem.
“He has been training regularly for two months now, so physically he should be fine. I asked him and Jeremy Menez to do some things, they managed them once every five opportunities and we really can’t afford that.
“Menez has physical problems holding him back, but Balotelli does it because he can’t maintain concentration. I don’t want to compare Mandzukic to Balotelli, as they have different characteristics, but he could’ve done more off the ball.
“Improvement depends on him, we all want to help him. First of all, he has to help himself. He has to be more present and do what we ask of him more consistently.”