Mario Balotelli is back in the Italy squad after receiving a summer call-up from Roberto Mancini, his former boss at Manchester City.
The 27-year-old Nice striker, who has scored 13 goals across his 33 appearances for theÂ Azzurri, last featured for Italy at the 2014 World Cup, subsequently being overlooked by Antonio Conte and Giampiero Ventura.
New national teamÂ head coach Mancini knows Balotelli wellÂ from their time together at City — a three-year collaboration during which the forward produced some of the best football of his club career.
An 18-goal haul for Nice in Ligue 1 this season has convinced Mancini to include Balotelli in a 30-man selection who will face Saudi Arabia, France and Netherlands in upcoming friendlies. Italy failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup.
Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s 176-cap career with theÂ AzzurriÂ is definitely over, a decision he revealed this week, so AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma is named and will likely be Mancini’s No. 1.
There are first calls for Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara, Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri, Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli, Crotone midfielder Rolando Mandragora and Sassuolo striker Domenico Berardi.
Italy faces Saudi Arabia in St Gallen on May 28 before meeting France in Nice on June 1 and welcoming the Netherlands to Turin three days later.