‘Overweight’ Balotelli not ready: Mihajlovic
Balotelli, who has returned to the San Siro on a season-long loan deal, hit the opener, provided an assist and won a penalty on Thursday as Milan beat fourth division side Modena 3-2 in a friendly during the break for international fixtures.
Balotelli’s goal from distance showed the striker, whose departure from Liverpool was widely applauded by Reds aficionados, has not lost his nose for goal.
But he has a long way to go until lasting a full 90 minutes, said Mihajlovic, whose revamped side are away to Inter Milan next week.
“He’s not played for a while and he still has to improve,” Mihajlovic said La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He’s training well and his physical tests are satisfactory, but he’s three kilogrammes overweight: he’s on a diet and when he’s ready he will play.”
Milan CEO Adriano Galliani, meanwhile, rang a more positive tone when asked about Balotelli’s fitness and admitted the striker’s goal had got him “excited”.
“His fitness is improving, physically he’s in a good place and he can do what he wants when he has the ball. Let’s hope his goal augurs well for the rest of the season,” said Galliani.
“When I see goals like that I get excited.”
Milan, who like Inter failed to qualify for Europe this season, have one defeat and one win from their opening two games of the season.
However Inter arguably made better acquisitions in the summer transfer market, notably signing Stevan Jovetic on a loan deal (Manchester City), midfielders Geoffrey Kondogbia (Monaco) and Felipe Melo (Galatasaray), forward Adem Ljajic (Roma) and Brazilian defender Alex Telles (Galatasaray).
Jovetic has hit three goals in two games to push Inter up to third place behind surprise leaders Chievo and Torino, and there is an air of renewed optimism in the blue and black half of the city.
In their own friendly on Thursday Inter suffered a 2-1 loss to lower league side Lecco, but coach Roberto Mancini used the game to test some of his younger players.
“It was important to give some of the lads some playing time and have a look at some of the youngsters,” he told Inter Channel.
“I thought Felipe Melo and Alex Telles played quite well.
“We experimented with a few things and didn’t want to make the senior players stay out there for more than 60 minutes.”