Zola: Qatar would be ideal for Balotelli, Cassano

As both players continue to be linked to Sampdoria, Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano have been told to look east for their next club.

Al Arabi coach Gianfranco Zola has urged controversial strikers Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano to move to the Middle East to jump-start their careers.

With Sampdoria president Massimo Ferrero unwilling to play €10million to purchase Balotelli from Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers seemingly not interested in playing the 24-year-old after a poor first season at Anfield, the Italy international needs to find a new home.

Cassano, who has also been linked with Sampdoria, is a free agent after leaving Parma in January.

Zola, who took over at Qatar Stars League club Al Arabi on July 11, reckons a stint in the tiny West Asian kingdom could give Balotelli and Cassano a stress-free period to focus on football and regain confidence.

In an interview with Sky Sports Italia, Zola said: "They [Balotelli and Cassano] are two top players, and it could be an excellent opportunity for them to play in a league with less scrutiny, recharge their batteries, and return to Europe as protagonists."

But the former Italy international may struggle to sign either of his compatriots if they are interested, as Al Arabi already have seven foreign players on their books - the maximum allowed in the Stars League.

"We are crowded but if I had the opportunity [to sign them], I would not give it a second thought," Zola said.