Mario Balotelli has hit back at Giorgio Chiellini after the Juventus defender recently claimed he ‘deserved a slap’ while on Confederations Cup duty with Italy.
Chiellini has stirred controversy ahead of the release of his autobiography – with Balotelli in the firing line due to his antics playing for his country.
Chiellini pulled no punches when describing his feelings for a couple of his former team-mates, and shed light on Balotelli’s behaviour at the Confederations Cup 2013.
Italy finished with a third-place at the tournament, having lost to Spain in the semi-finals but won the third-place play-off against Uruguay.
And Chiellini told La Repubblica newspaper: ‘I was really let down by two players and I confirm everything I wrote in the book.
‘Balotelli is a negative person, with no respect for the group. During the Confederations Cup against Brazil in 2013, he didn’t lend a helping hand for anything, he really did deserve a slap.
‘Some people thought he was among the top five strikers in the world, but I never even considered him in the top 10 or 20.’
Balotelli responded to the defender on Instagram, and even included Chiellini’s account handle in the latest chapter of their feud.
He wrote: ‘At least I have the sincerity and courage to say things face to face.
‘You’ve had plenty of opportunities since 2013 to behave like a real man but you didn’t – who knows what you will say one day about your current team-mates.
‘Strange captain. If that’s what it means to be a champion, I prefer not to be – and I never disrespected the blue jersey.’
Chiellini also angered Felipe Melo after describing the midfielder as ‘the worst of the worst’.
Speaking to La Gazetta dello Sport, Melo said: ‘I’d like to know what incidents he was referring to. When I was in Turin, I never lacked respect for anyone: teammates, directors or Juventus in general.
‘At this point, though, I have no respect for him. And I never will have.
‘He says Balotelli should be slapped and I am the worst of the worst who always risked sparking a brawl? Well, he was always a coward who’d wet himself…
‘Besides, it’s too easy to be nasty about someone in a book. Perhaps “this defender” is still angry with me, because when I went to Galatasaray, we gave his Juve some “slaps” and knocked them out of the Champions League. Or that Inter won everything and I am an Interista.
‘This is what Chiellini is like, he always acts as if he’s the greatest… I am also reminded that we beat Italy 3-0 in the 2009 Confederations Cup, won eventually by Brazil. Perhaps he’s still bitter about that too, seeing as he’s won nothing at international level with Italy.’