Liverpool's 'five out of 10' Mario Balotelli still hopes to win Ballon d'Or
Mario Balotelli says he still has hopes to lift the Ballon d'Or at some point in his career -- despite getting stuck in a "five out of 10" rut.
Despite a promising start to his career, the former Manchester City striker's return to the Premier League with Liverpool has not gone well, scoring just once in 2014-15 and being loaned to AC Milan last season.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera about his recent performance, the 25-year-old said: "I have not done enough in recent years. I can do much better. But it takes time.
"On a scale of one to 10, I have only reached five. But I will get to 10 eventually, because that is my goal.
"I want to win the Ballon d'Or. Although I realise I got stuck at five out of 10 in the last two years when my goal was to get closer to 10."
But Balotelli, who has reported back at Liverpool for preseason training, said he realised his dreams would appear ambitious to many, in light of recent performances.
He said: "I know people will laugh when I say I want the Ballon d'Or. I have not done everything needed to become the best.
"But the most important thing is that I have realised my mistakes and it is not too late yet. I don't want to reach the end of my career thinking that I have not done everything to become the best.
"Until two years ago I was happy with what I had. I was doing well and I was happy with the way things were, even if I was aware of my flaws. I was not thinking about improving.
"I started working harder two years ago, even if the results are not there yet. Maybe I am paying for the previous 23 years. But I am calm. I know that things have changed for me over the past two years."
Balotelli went on to say he understood why Italy coach Antonio Conte did not pick him for his Euro 2016 squad given his current form, but he was disappointed nonetheless to be watching the action form home.
"Of course, I regret not being at Euro 2016. I would have loved to be there," he added.
"Conte would have called up the real Balotelli. But the current Balotelli did not deserve to be there. I have not been at my own level for the past two years. I have had physical problems and other issues. I have not been the real me," he lamented.
"Conte was right to pick other players. I would have done the same thing had I been him."
Balotelli faces an uncertain future, back at Liverpool ahead of the 2016-17 season but seemingly surplus to requirements at Anfield.