Having scored the winning goal in Italy’s 2-1 victory over England and now getting ready for Friday’s match against Costa Rica, the temperamental forward has gained more attention than any other Azzurri player in Brazil.
“Personally, I want to score as many goals as possible,” he added at the official pre-match news conference. “But the important thing is that the squad wins and advances.”
Wearing a black cap turned backward and a total of three diamond earrings — two on his right ear, one on the left — Balotelli was his usual candid self.
This is a first World Cup for Balotelli, who helped lead Italy to the 2012 European Championship final.
“This is the biggest event of my career and I want to give my all,” he said. “The World Cup is more important than the Golden Ball or the Champions League, so it’s only normal that it creates a spark inside of you.”
Balotelli is coming off an up-and-down club season with AC Milan and has been the subject of rampant transfer speculation in recent weeks. There have been reports that Arsenal is offering Milan a €30 million ($40 million) transfer fee, and a contract for Balotelli worth 180,000 pounds (more than $300,000) per week.
“My focus is 100 percent on the World Cup,” he said. “I don’t know what will happen afterward. I don’t know anything.”
For example, what does he think about Keylor Navas, who had a strong season with Levante and is considered one of the top goalkeepers in the Spanish league?
“Honestly, I’m unprepared for this question because I haven’t seen the Costa Rica goalkeeper,” he responded.