Liverpool and Arsenal have both brought during exciting new strikers in the closing days of the transfer window. Both Balotteli and Welbeck cost £16m and the ESPN FC team debate which deal represents better value for money.
Some are crazy. Some are unbelievable. All of them are really funny…
The prestige of Serie A, may have faltered over the last couple of years. If you think about it the last time any real landscape headlines came from Italy’s premier league, took place during Internaziole’s Jose Mourinho era.
That was until a certain enigma by the name of Mario Balotelli returned home to his native country, albeit to his former clubs fiercest rivals AC Milan. His reported £17m move to the club he supported as a child, had created a frenzy in Italy, scenes of a barrage of fans awaiting his arrival outside a local restaurant was the start of many things to come from fans of AC Milan and their new superstar Mario Balotelli.
At Manchester City Super Mario was made to bide his time amongst a star-studded forward line consisting of some of Europe’s most lethal forwards Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez. At AC Milan however it has already become apparent that there is only one man capable of leading the line in a 4-3-3 formation. Without being too over analytical of Balotelli’s body language, you could sense that the Italian had a newly found aura about himself as he walked onto the pitch with his famed 45 number at the back of his jersey. It was all about him. It was his Superbowl before the Superbowl.
Kicking off with the Azzuri’s brightest hope Stephan El Shaarawy against Udinese at the San Siro, Balotelli knew that his time had arrived to set the stadium alight with his audacious talent. Within the first few seconds he had already hit the post after beating a man and hitting a long range strike. Already we were looking at a new Balotelli, a happy Balotelli.
Walking around the pitch with his languish style there was not much that you could tell Balotelli, he knew his role, he knew what was required of him, in Shawn Michael’s fashion he had to steal the show. And he did just that on 24 mins, El Shaarawy linked up with fellow Italian Riccardo Montolivo and split the defence open with a one-two before playing the ball into the feet of Balotelli, with there being only one result. And soon Balotelli was revelling in the adulation from his new fans.
But there was to be a false protagonist in Balo’s Italian homecoming as Udinese equalised shortly after. Fans were on edge for the remainder of the game, it was believed to be a case of new player same old Milan, can’t see a game out. French whizkid, Mbaye Niang sporting a similar look to Balotelli hit the crossbar in the last 15mins. El Shaarawy tried his luck on a few occasions but the score still remained 1-1.
That was until a dubious decision went AC Milan’s way; a penalty was given for a tackle on Il Farone, El Shaarawy. Talk of match-fixing has been evident in Italian Football for many years and you could not fault doubters for suspecting that Italian Football had played their most deadly card once again. Only one man was expected to place the ball on the spot and that was Mario.
After the smallest of deliberation from another former City man Robinho, who thought that he would be best suited to take the last minute penalty, the Italian was ready to seize his moment. And just like we had been accustomed to in the Premier League Balotelli had duly delivered from the spot and won the game with the last kick of the game on a hero’s welcome at the San Siro.
And there you have it. The Mario Balotelli era is well and truly underway…
Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)
The general notion of the media will have one believe that Roberto Mancini has had enough of Mario Balotelli. Whenever Mancini shows an inch of faith towards Balotelli, the Ghanaian born Italian seems to throw it back in his face. Balotelli is an extreme example of football unpredictability. They said that Cristiano Ronaldo during his early days at Manchester United was an unpredictable talent, you never knew what the then Portuguese youngster was going to do, on the pitch. With Mario he takes the word ‘unpredictability’ within the game to greater lengths.
There is no doubt Mario Balotelli is a talent, how big of a talent? No one really knows because he has not shown enough of his talent yet to be judged. Despite being 22 years old, you would not fault an average football fan from suspecting Balotelli being anything over 24 given how long he has been in the limelight. Way back in 2007 Inter Milan bragged of having one of the very best young talents in world football, similar to Barcelona who were bragging of having a young Bojan Krkic, breaking records at will. The name Mario Balotelli began making widespread headlines and became Inter Milan’s youngest ever Champions League scorer, all under the then Inter manager Roberto Mancini.
You see Mancini was the man that started his own love affair with Balotelli, acting like a father to the extremely talented youngster, but it seemed that things went downhill for Mario as soon as a certain Jose Mourinho entered the dugout at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Although reunited at Manchester City, one could assume that the love shown by Mancini has yet to be appreciated and returned by Super Mario. His latest performance against bitter rivals Manchester United, looked to show a setback in their on and off relationship. You could just imagine Roberto talking to all of his players in the changing room encouraging them that all is not lost in the season and seeing a relaxed Mario Balotelli playing with his finger nails.
To be honest no one really knows what has been said behind closed doors between the two Italians. In a media world of assumptions and general consensus’ headlines will be generated at will, but in an ideal world you have to be realistic and say that Mancini is the only man that can tame Balotelli, better yet Balotelli is the only person who can tame Balotelli.
So whilst Balotelli may question and ask ‘Why Always Me?’, maybe Mancini asks himself that question whenever he makes the decision to put his fellow Italian on the pitch.
Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)