Rome – Patience with Mario Balotelli seems to be running out as AC Milan are not appealing a three-game ban imposed opn him.
The suspension was handed down over the striker's insults against a referee at the end of a Serie A game that Milan lost 2-1 at home to Napoli on Sunday - in which Balotelli scored but also failed to convert a penalty.
Balotelli received a yellow card in the second half and got a second, which implies a red card, after the final whistle for threatening the official as team-mates restrained him on the pitch and on the way to the changing rooms.
He already served a three-game ban, also for insulting a game official, after a league game in April, which was reduced to two on appeal.
His record while at Manchester City included a three-game ban in the Europa League and 10 missed games in the 2011-2012 season.
The latest ban may also affect his next appearances with the national team, where coach Cesare Prandelli could enforce his ethical code as the Azzurri, who have already won their group, play two World Cup qualifiers next month.
"Mario must learn to control himself because he is an important asset for us," Italy defender Ignazio Abate said. "Missing him for some games will be a problem for us."
Coach Massimiliano Allegri was hard on his most prolific striker - who is to be out against Bologna, Sampdoria and champions Juventus - as the struggling Devils are weakened by injuries in the early part of the season.
"He must grow up. He is not a child anymore," Allegri said. "His attitude is wrong. Milan players must not have such behaviour.
"Mario was wrong and he penalized the team and the fans. The decision not to appeal is a clear signal from the club.
"But he should also be protected. Against Napoli he suffered many fouls. Maybe, had he been another player, they would all have been called."
Super Mario, who is 23, scored 16 goals in 20 games for Milan since arriving in January from Manchester City to confirm his great talent which is often matched by unruly behaviour.
Referees and opponents, let alone rival fans, do not appreciate his attitude on the pitch which also include the occasional dive and reactions to fouls missed by officials.
But Allegri, just as Prandelli in the past, also had encouraging words for his striker, who is poised to lead Italy's attack at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"I trust in his good sense and capacity to understand that it is an important year for his career," Allegri said. "I think I will be able to lend him a hand, but he must also help himself.
"Mario must understand it: he can only improve. His technical qualities are still at 50 per cent. – Sapa-dpa