Mario Balotelli Chooses His All-Time XI With Two Former Premier League Teammates Named

Everybody is looking for ways to occupy themselves during these times of lockdown and social distancing, but it sure helps pass the time when you can call on international footballers to discuss the game with.

So, who better than Mario Balotelli to brighten everyone’s day? He was speaking on Puma Football’s Instagram with Thierry Henry as he was asked to name his all-time XI. Two of the Premier League’s greatest characters chatting about great players? Yes please.

Balotelli named an excellent side with eight former teammates, including two Premier League legends in midfield. Yaya Toure and Steven Gerrard in front of Andrea Pirlo in a midfield three would be an absolute dream, although this is a dream team, isn’t it?

Manchester City's Italian striker Mario

Balotelli ​explained his selection to Henry, saying: “Pirlo guarantees you ten goals a year, Yaya can do it all. That’s a good team I think, although I left you [Henry] out, I left Cristiano [Ronaldo] out.”

The full team was set up in a narrow 4-4-2 diamond. Reading right to left, it goes a little something like; Julio Cesar, Maicon, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Maxwell; Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure, Antonio Cassano; Lionel Messi, and Ronaldo [R9].

Despite only choosing two Premier League players, Balotelli spoke of his fondness for the English game, telling Henry: “I only have good memories of the Premier League. The Premier League is the best. The French league is physical too, though.”

UEFA EURO 2012 Final - Spain v Italy

The former Manchester City and Liverpool striker, who is currently playing for his boyhood club Brescia in Serie A, also spoke candidly about his reputation as a controversial player in his younger years.

He added: “I always say I was crazy, but I wasn’t even crazy, I was just young. I was always respectful, but when you’re 16 or 17 you want to do things that 16 or 17 year olds do – going out to clubs, you know.

“But when you are a footballer there is an expectation of you.”