Mario Balotelli is currently involved in court negotiations with ex-girlfriend Raffaella Fico for the right to see his 18-month-old daughter Pia.
The AC Milan striker, who didn't acknowledge he was the child's father until a paternity test proved so earlier this year, is hoping to come into contact with Pia for the second time before the World Cup.
Hannah Roberts of the Daily Mail provided details of the current situation:
He was allowed to hold her for the first time only a month ago in the court house in Naples, after the judge granted special permission. Balotelli and Miss Fico attended a private hearing at a court in Brescia, near Milan, to discuss how often the footballer will be able to visit his daughter.
Alessandra Capuano, Balotelli's lawyer, told Corriere della Sera negotiations "are well on track to finding a way for both parents to fully collaborate," per Roberts' report. The hearing lasted around one hour, but didn't begin to consider maintenance payments, which will be addressed during an alternate meeting in September.
Fico, a model and regular on Italian television, is alleged to have had a relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo before falling pregnant with Balotelli's baby in 2012. As noted by the Daily Mail, Fico "rose to fame after featuring in Italian Big Brother and through a hoax in which she offered to sell her virginity for 1 million euros."
Balotelli previously suggested he wanted to confirm the baby was his before committing to Pia. The former Manchester City man acknowledged he tried to set up a DNA test for "a whole year" before February's confirmation was granted.
"I cannot turn up if I am not certain of being her father, because children mustn’t be disappointed by adults who then disappear. I know something about that," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, per Roberts.
The powerful forward hit 16 goals in 38 appearances throughout Serie A and the Champions League this season, per WhoScored.com. He also provided six assists in a campaign that saw Milan finish seventh.
Despite plenty of club disappointment, Balotelli is expected to lead Italy's charge at the World Cup, with group matches against England, Costa Rica and Uruguay on the horizon. The striker performed admirably at Euro 2012—where he put Germany to the sword before unleashing his now infamous "Hulk" celebration—and recently admitted he hopes to impress again:
And Now i hope this is gonna happen Again! ✌. FOCUS. Forza Azzurri. Italia! http://t.co/5qUSvPGAWa— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) May 19, 2014
Sorting Pia's custody issues will certainly help Balotelli heading into the summer's tournament. He is sure to enjoy greater concentration and focus if the issue is resolved before Italy's kick-off, where his every move will be judged.