Ever since Mario Balotelli emerged on the scene in football, his talent was there for everyone to see. A player who can make something happen out of nothing, raw pace and power to unnerve opposition defenders, an instinctive finishing ability and the ability to change a game on its head. Where has that player gone? Can he get himself back to that kind of form? When Balotelli broke onto the scene at Inter Milan as a teenager with Roberto Mancini in charge he emerged within the first team and made an instant impact, showing Italian football exactly what he was all about. The biggest problem Balotelli has faced throughout his career thus far is his attitude; he perceives himself as lazy and shows an inability to connect with his teammates. Jose Mourinho during his stint at Inter Milan dropped the controversial frontman from the first team squad, his attitude in training the main reason for doing so. Since moving on from Inter Milan though Balotelli has taken trouble with him and has never hit the heights in the game that was expected of such a gifted footballer. I for one would love to see Balotelli settle at a club and a manager and play to the top of his ability. We have seen glimpses during his time in England, but the bad attitude he possesses has always prevented Balotelli playing to the top of his ability. There is still for Balotelli, still only 25 and with everything still to prove.
His time at Man City was indifferent, that moment when he revealed the ‘Why always me’ t-shirt will always be remembered but with the good moments they were overshadowed by the bad, the kick out sending off against Arsenal sealed his fate with the club and with his career mentor Roberto Mancini. Consequently as a result a return to Milan this time with AC Milan was supposed to really kick start Balotelli’s career. He enjoyed a great start with Milan and the fans, scoring goals and producing sublime quality on the pitch, however problems off the pitch once again overshadowed Balotelli and the media jumped at every chance to highlight the personal problems he was going through at that time. The World Cup in Brazil in 2014 was seen as the perfect stage for Balotelli to show not only the people of Italy what he could do, but for the world to see just how good a player he could be, unfortunately though Italy suffered a miserable group stage and went home early, Balotelli showing only glimpses of the quality he has in his locker. The same summer saw his return to the English game this time with Liverpool who was looking to replace Luis Suarez and a 16m fee was paid to AC Milan to gain the Italian frontman. This move was to prove a major controversy within the club and especially amongst fans. The previous campaign under Brendan Rodgers the club played with a two man strike force, ideal for Balotelli to play up alongside maybe Daniel Sturridge or Rickie Lambert at the time, so to change to a lone man frontman and play Balotelli in this role was a move of strange and perhaps more so a clueless move from the manager at the time. Balotelli has endured a torrid time at the Merseyside club and had to get himself away for at least the short term so a return to the San Siro on loan for the current campaign looked a good move for both parties.
This season however has also had its problems, AC Milan have suffered yet another indifferent season this time around, these inconsistent displays led to the departure of yet another manager in Siniša Mihajlović. Balotelli himself has had an indifferent season with injuries playing there part for the player mainly due to a groin problem. 17% of game time played this season shows that Balotelli has had little impact this season. During this time he has contributed with a solitary goal, a solitary assist and not surprisingly four yellow cards. (Stats provided by https://sporticos.com). Not exactly the sort of return from a player who is looking to prove his future with the club. The appointment of Cristian Brocchi could provide Balotelli with a last opportunity to prove himself at the club which he has publicly voiced where he belongs. Brocchi has voiced to the Italian media that Balotelli’s future will be decided in the remaining games this season. The last two outings for Balotelli have been productive, against Juventus in the 2-1 defeat he proved to be a real problem for the Juventus defenders, taking them out wide to defend against him opening spaces across the backline. The one nil win against Sampdoria saw Balotelli showing moments of real quality, the work he does on his set-pieces is evident and linking up with his teammates shows that he is working harder and stepping up to this challenge. The embrace at the end of the win between Balotelli and Brocchi was a moment in which Milan and Italy fans want to see, could he even make a late push to make the Italian squad for the Euro’s, stranger things have happened. Reading the recent reports coming out of Anfield it looks increasingly unlikely Balotelli has a future at the club with Jurgen Klopp. The fact Balotelli has made his feelings perfectly clear at how unhappy he has been at during his time at Liverpool should confirm we will not see Balotelli wear the shirt again.
So where will Balotelli be come the end of the summer moving into the season 2016/17? Well personally I would hope to see him in the famous colours of AC Milan and producing a formidable partnership with Carlos Bacca, especially if Cristian Brocchi remains in charge at the San Siro as he favours the two man strike force. There would be no shortage of takers especially in Italy for the controversial striker. Sampdoria expressed their desire last summer to bring him back to Italy, could Mancini potentially bring him back if he loses Mauro Icardi? There would be options for ‘Super Mario’ to stay in Europe, the fear would be that his head would turn by money and we see yet another superstar name joins the ever growing league in China. There is noise being made that a move to China could be next for Balotelli but as a fan it would be a great shame to see a player never truly fulfilling his real potential. These remaining games for AC Milan this season will be the key to the future of Mario Balotelli.