"Balotelli feels second to Messi? It's important to believe in his capacity. Many believe in him, but it's the facts that count," Abete said.
"To reach the highest levels in football you have to show consistency and behave in professional ways.
"Balotelli is maturing and we hope he can be a reference point for the national team.
"He has good potential and we hope he expresses this with the Italy shirt."