​Italy legend Andrea Pirlo has insisted that Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli can still turn his career around, pleading with him not to take any offers from the Chinese Super League this summer. 

The flamboyant 25-year-old looks to be on his way out of Anfield this summer if the club can find a buyer for him, having spent last season back in Italy on an unsuccessful loan spell with Milan. 

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Pirlo talked fondly of his former Italy teammate though, telling the ​Mirror: “He frustrates me, but I do have so much affection for Mario. He is infectious to be around. 

“When I used to see him walk into training for Italy, he would have this big smile on his face – and I would just burst out laughing – and start wondering what is he thinking, what is he up to?

“Mario should not just be a character the media write about for good stories. We shouldn’t forget what a special player he is. 

“I have played with some of the best strikers, and I can tell you Mario has all the attributes to be one of the best strikers in the world. By now I thought that is where he would be, that is where he should be. He has no more time to waste.”

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He added: “He has played for so many big clubs, it’s easy to forget he’s only 25. He still has time to make it at the very top,” but he “needs to pick his next club carefully”, warned the veteran maestro.  

The NYCFC midfielder said: “I have read things about him and China. With all respect to their league, Mario should not be going there yet. If he has two or three good seasons at his next club, he will still only be 28 and could join one of the top clubs in Europe. 

“I don’t have any advice for him anymore, he knows the qualities that he has. From this point, it’s up to Mario.”


For more from Chris when he’s not writing on 90min, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!

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