After months of talk and speculation, it has been confirmed that Mario Balotelli is to leave the shores of England and the Premier League to return to where it all began for him in Italy in a deal reportedly in the figure of 19 million (rising to 22 million with add-ons), to join the club he supported as a boy, AC Milan. I for one, despite his mixed and varied reputation in the football community, just need to come out and say it: he will be missed.
There are arguments that surround Balotelli on a daily occurrence: “he is a misunderstood genius“, some might say, “but he is just an overpaid petulant child”, others would retort, or the simple three letter tag “lad” has become a recurrent utterance whenever his name is mentioned. No matter what opinion you may hold of Mario Balotelli, from bib-gate to that goal against Manchester United, there is no denying he has been sheer and unadulterated entertainment
However, in the modern English game where a huge emphasis on fair play, cool temperaments and role models for younger people is so important, was it only a matter of time before Balotelli became the outcast and forced a move back to his homeland? There is no denying that the English game has been patient with ol’ Mario, but no one has shown him as much sympathy and earnest affection as Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini. A man who has described Balotelli as an ‘idiot’ and even scrapped with him on the training field, although Mancini has also been Balotelli’s No.1 fan. Even in the face of discipline, Mancini always tried his best to show faith in the young enigmatic striker, also encouraging other City players to guide Mario through games like several different father figures.
But with this transfer now confirmed and his extended foray as City’s most expensive bench warmer, it is clear that Mancini’s patience does have a limit, which is a shame, as Balotelli has shown glimpses of footballing genius. It is sad to think that these moments of genius are tarnished by petulant outbursts and lazy performances during games. He is a man (or boy some would argue) who, I personally feel, chooses when he wants to turn up. Take the semi-final of Euro 2012 for example. Balotelli showed the world what he actually has to offer and why Mancini showed so much faith: power, speed and one heck of a right foot sent Germany packing and showed signs of a striker with mountains of potential who is perfectly capable in turning up for the massive occasion.
With this transfer to the San Siro, back in a place where he is surrounded by his native language and his family, I feel we will all soon be seeing “Balotelli: he scores when he wants”, running down our Twitter feeds on a weekly occurrence.