Antonio Conte caused quite a stir at the weekend with the announcement of his first squad as Italy boss, leaving Mario Balotelli out of the 27-man list.
The £16 million Liverpool signing is suspended for the Azzurri’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway next week, though would be eligible for Thursday's friendly with the Netherlands.
Balotelli’s omission has widely been taken as Conte laying down an early marker in his Italy reign, the ex-Juventus coach making clear all players must earn their keep in the national team.
With Balotelli left on the shelf, former team-mate at AC Milan Stephan El Shaarawy has re-entered the fold for country under Conte after enduring an injury-plagued last 12 months.
Asked about the Liverpool man’s exclusion, El Shaarawy stressed that Balotelli has every chance to return to the Italy squad.
He told a Gazzetta dell Sport: ‘But this does not mean he cannot come back. Conte was clear. Nobody should feel that their place is secure or that they are excluded.’
El Shaarawy went on to say he hopes Balotelli can flourish at Liverpool after leaving Milan behind, praising the talent of the enigmatic striker.
‘I told him good luck in his adventure at Liverpool. I hope for him that he made the right choice: on a technical level he remains one of the best in the world.’
Being left out of Conte’s squad may actually be a blessing in disguise for Balotelli, spending the international break settling into his new surroundings rather than traveling.
After making his Reds debut at the weekend he’s been granted the stability of staying in his new home, helping to ease the integration process.
Steven Gerrard has already recounted his willingness support Balotelli in an effort to get the best out of him, which can only be a positive for both Liverpool and Italy.
Should the 24-year-old quickly find his feet on Merseyside it shouldn’t be long before he’s back in the Azzurri set-up as noted by El Shaarawy - proving to Conte he’s ready to perform on a consistent basis.
Can Balotelli unlock his full potential at Liverpool?