What do you do with a player that has bags of potential but also pockets full of attitude? One week he scores an emphatic winner the next his maverick actions see him sent off. With more entertaining tabloid stories than performances on the pitch. But locked and loaded with a talent to be admired. Do you let them play or call it a day?
Well I present to you... Mario Balotelli.
Currently playing with the Premier League’s big money spenders, Manchester City, this Italian forward is blessed with pace, strength and ... oh attitude. It’s no argument that ‘Super Mario’ provides a great source of entertainment both on and off the pitch. Acquired with a skill to both delight but also infuriate fans and football managers. He’s a rare breed that can have you changing your opinion from one game to the next. However apart from all this lies a unique talent packed with creativity, determination and promise to be a complete forward.
This talented yet controversial striker gets enough criticism but little praise (even though he doesn’t help it). A look at why he’s a highly regarded footballer should be highlighted...
Within his early career, immense technical ability earned Mario Balotelli first team football quite frankly everywhere. It didn’t take long before Italian giants Inter Milan, gained interest and put pen to paper with the prodigy. He made his first team debut for Inter Milan at only 17 in a championship final. Though it was the season of 2008 which saw him capture people’s attention, scoring two great goals against Juventus in the Italian Cup, the media went crazy praising his “phenomenal” skills. Within the Coppa Italia, he bagged 4 goals resulting in the top scorer (well joint with Cruz and Iaquinta). His first Champions League goal against, bare with me, Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus made Mario Balotelli the youngest player to ever score in the competition. At 18 years and 85 days he beat the previous record set by Obafemi Martins (remember him?). The quick success gained huge praise while at Inter, his unique characteristic of scoring as well as making goals, had many comparing him to the likes of Diego Maradona, Pele and Zinedine Zidane!
Fast forward a few scraps, stories and actual years we see ‘Super Mario’ rightfully leaving Inter to be reunited with former boss Roberto Mancini. Settling together again at multi-millionaire football club Manchester City. It’s fair to say his time so far at the Etihad has been a rollercoaster, from scoring incredible goals, named man of the match and City’s new threat to countless suspensions, attitude strops and tabloid stories. His trait seems to be score then get sent off, perform sublime skill then commit violent conduct, most of the time leaving his team in a right pickle. Even though the fiery striker has had a mixed time so far with English Football, Roberto Mancini has continued to back Balotelli to deliver the goods. I mean he did win the Golden Boy Award (best young player in Europe). Last season he notably helped City lift the FA Cup after 35 years, he led the attack and played an instrumental part rewarded with man of the match several times. Skip a few more months, we see the Italian scoring left, right and centre, proving to be on fire right now (still having time to taunt fans).
In conclusion, Mario Balotelli is a footballer that can divide opinions across the game, either one of the hottest young strikers around or he has us waiting for self destruct mode. You may disagree but he has the capability to become the worlds very best and Italy’s future sensation. We don’t need another pantomime villain, that role’s nailed by El Hadji Diouf. If he realises the gifts he posses, the strengths that make him stick out (agility, speed and power) then there is no doubting a top class striker will rise and shine. (As long as he stay’s clear of the mafia, bibs, stops flaunting his wealth, taunting fans, using the line ‘Because I can’ and never does a back heel shot again that is).
A phenomenal talent but overshadowed with a varied temperament. I leave you with the wise words of one Marcello Lippi to base you final view though.
“Balotelli is too immature, cocky, and inexperienced, and although he has all these defects, he still seems to be Italy’s brightest young star for the future”. -- Marcello Lippi