Balotelli debate

De Jong warns Balotelli

July 25, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong has warned team-mate Mario Balotelli not to waste his talent, after he was substituted after attempting a trick shot in the club's friendly against L.A. Galaxy.

Mario Balotelli's backheel lands him in hot water.

• Balotelli hauled off in friendly

Balotelli, 20, sparked a verbal clash with manager Roberto Mancini, who hauled the striker off a few minutes after the incident and displayed his anger on the bench.

De Jong, who was particularly demonstrative in his remonstrations with Balotelli at the time, said in comments quoted in The Guardian: ''I've played with some strange characters in the past but it's the first time I have seen that.

''It is frustrating, and he has to iron out those issues otherwise it will be a waste of his talent. He has to realise that now.

''All his team-mates are here to help him but he's his own person and he is the only one who can change his ways.''

However, David Beckham has stuck up for Balotelli as the Galaxay star, whilst reminding Balotelli of his status within the game, did feel there was a legitimate excuse.

''I have watched it back a few times and from his mannerisms I believe he thought he was offside,'' Beckham said. ''Mario has been a great player for quite a few years and he is still very young. He will continue to get better I am sure.

''But it doesn't matter whether you think it was offside or not. There are a lot of young kids watching these teams and great players who come out here. You have to be professional and score the goal.''