London: Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff has blamed Mario Balotelli's former clubs for failing to educate the Italy international.
The 24-year-old has been in the spotlight for his actions on and off the pitch for several years now, and his behaviour is under renewed scrutiny at Liverpool where he is yet to score in the Premier League following his £16million move from AC Milan in the summer.
Balotelli recently made headlines for his late-night partying habits, but Dutch great Cruyff is not blaming the player himself.
"We always speak about people but I like to speak about the education of people," he said.
"How have they educated him (Balotelli) in the clubs he has played for? "It's too simplistic to say, 'He doesn't behave well'. But one should follow that up with, 'Why is that?' "If it is down to education, how is it possible that he has played for Italian clubs for the past five or six seasons and he doesn't behave well?
"For me it's the fault of the team not of the person." Balotelli made his Serie A debut at the age of 17 with Inter Milan, and three years later he moved to Manchester City where former Inter coach Roberto Mancini - seen by some as a father figure to the player - had been keen to reunite with him.
However, his poor disciplinary record continued and a bust-up with Mancini led to Balotelli returning to Serie A in January 2013 with Milan. The Palermo-born player, who competed for Italy at the World Cup in Brazil, scored 30 goals in 54 games for the Rossoneri. Cruyff believes these clubs should have taken a firmer stand with the temperamental striker.
"You educate people and if one does not wish to be educated, he doesn't play," the former Barcelona coach said. "It's as easy as that. "The ones that have made the mistakes are the ones to blame.
"The mistake is in the roots, not in the final product." Balotelli is currently on international duty with Italy preparing for Sunday's Euro 2016 qualifier against Croatia. The Liverpool striker was a surprise inclusion in Antonio Conte's Italy squad given his recent form. Balotelli had not featured for his national team since Italy's first-round elimination from the World Cup.