Former Italy forwards Antonio Cassano and Luca Toni have waded into the war of words between Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Balotelli and Felipe Melo.
Juventus defender Chiellini caused a stir on Saturday when excerpts from an upcoming autobiography were published in the Italian media.
Chiellini said that Balotelli “deserved a slap” for his conduct on international duty with Italy and labelled Melo “the worst of the worst, a rotten apple.”
Both players hit back almost immediately. Melo fondly recalled ‘slapping Juventus out of the Champions League’ with Galatasaray, while Balotelli replied: “At least I have the sincerity and courage to say things face to face.”
Now Cassano – who played with Chiellini and Balotelli for Italy – says he doesn’t know what the defender was talking about, but that he feels he “must have had his good reasons”.
“I don’t know Felipe Melo, I haven’t played with him and I don’t know what kind of person he is,” Cassano said on Instagram Live with Christian Vieri. “Mario is a boy, a good boy, so I don’t know what Chiellini was referring to.
“What I can assure you is that I have enormous respect for Giorgio. He is super intelligent, he understands football, he killed you on the pitch when you played against him, but outside he is a great person.
“He must have had his good reasons. I know Mario superficially, but I spent ten years with Chiellini in the national team and he is good and polite.”
Former Bayern Munich and Juventus forward Toni also had his say on the spat. He noted Chiellini would have been keen to drum up interest in his upcoming book, but that he would love to see him take on Balotelli on the pitch regardless.
“Books are peculiar,” Toni told Vieri. “When you write one, you also have to find things that make headlines. I think they both were right, but they were wrong to behave like they did.
“Of course, if it’s something he never said to his face then it’s not nice, but certainly Balotelli will have done something.
“It’s even worse when certain discussions spill on to social media. It would be better if they talked and clarified things. Judging by Balotelli’s response, these are things that were never said to his face. You have to understand where the truth lies and know the situation.
“Then, at a time like this, when there’s little to talk about… of course, it would be nice if the season resumed with Chiellini versus Balotelli.”