sport

Prandelli: Mario needs love

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has come out in defence of Mario Balotelli following the forward's latest indiscretion.

The 23-year-old scored an equaliser for AC Milan in their 2-1 win over Cagliari on Sunday, but then made a vulgar gesture towards opposition fans to earn a yellow card.

His latest booking means Balotelli will be suspended for the fifth time this season and will miss Saturday's Serie A match against Torino.

"Balotelli will learn," Prandelli said to Gazzetta dello Sport. "He needs a lot of love.

"We need to get the best out of him.

"He is very tied to his emotions, he has these reactions but he is a very good person.

"(AC Milan coach Clarence) Seedorf has already said the right things.

"I am convinced that with Seedorf's help we can bring out the best in Mario."

Seedorf, who replaced sacked Massimiliano Allegri at the helm of the Rossoneri last week, has plenty of faith in Balotelli.

"I've told Mario that he can count on me," he said to acmilan.com. "He will have my help.

"He wants to improve.

"It's our responsibility to put him in the condition to do well and grow a player that can do well for Italy."

Balotelli, who is set to be in Italy's World Cup squad this summer, has scored nine goals in 16 league appearances for Milan this term.