Fabrizio Ravanelli has stressed Nice striker Mario Balotelli has work to do if he is to challenge for the Ballon d'Or
Balotelli stated earlier this season he remains hopeful of winning the prestigious award at some stage in his career, despite struggling badly for consistency in recent years.
The striker has impressed at Nice since his transfer from Liverpool ahead of the 2016-17 campaign, but Ravanelli is adamant his compatriot still has a lot of work to do before he can realistically start targeting the game's prized individual accolade.
"Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic are the number ones not only because God gave them this talent but mostly because they make sacrifices in everyday life," Ravanelli told Omnisport.
"For example a few months ago I read Novak Djokovic's book and was gobsmacked. I understood why he is the world's number one. He trains 14 hours per day.
"This is what Balotelli has to understand. To be Balotelli is not enough to win the Ballon d'Or. At the moment he is light-years away from winning it.
"It is hard to define him. I love him but at the same time he has to understand that a footballer's life is hard and full of sacrifices. He is a very good guy but he makes mistakes due to his youth and his superficiality.
"He needs to become an example. For himself, for his family, for his brother and his daughter. When you wear an important shirt like Inter's, [AC] Milan's, Manchester City's and now Nice's you have to be an example, even off the pitch."
Balotelli missed out on a return to the Italy team for the World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Macedonia and Ravanelli feels head coach Giampiero Ventura made the right decision.
"Three or four good games are not enough to get back into the national team. This doesn't only apply to Balotelli but to anyone," Ravanelli added.
"You step up to international level after years of sacrifices and great results. Today you wear the Italy shirt with a good month or three or four good games. I don't accept that and never did as I had to make so many sacrifices to be an international. I am surprised that nowadays some young players play for Italy after a couple of good displays. This hinders Italy's performances too.
"I am not saying that the national team is a finishing point of your career. It may be a starting point but only if you proved to be capable of making sacrifices and be mature.
"Balotelli, I hope he can get back into the Italy team, but at the same time I don't want him to go back to his old ways."