A loose cannon, or is he now an asset for City?

It’s never low-risk when it comes to Mario Balotelli. And while the Italy international has shown his talents on both the domestic and international stages, has Balotelli shaken that loose cannon characteristic and become a valued team player?

I’m not all that impressed or even interested in a football player setting off fireworks in one of his many bathrooms. It’s moronic and I’d think the same of Lionel Messi if he were to do it. But Mario Balotelli has shown two sides of himself in football: a potential world class striker with a stunning array of weaponry in front of goal; and the mouthy child in an adult’s body who is holding that potential back.

Maybe there was a reason that very few teams wanted to take the high-priced gamble on Balotelli while he was at Inter. Interest where there, but who needs that sort of headache. Manchester City had no problem parting with the cash, even if they were to take a few hits along the way.

It said a lot when Jose Mourinho said he wanted nothing to do with him, and perhaps rightly, other clubs took the Portuguese’s advice and stayed well clear. Evidently, unmistakeable talent isn’t enough. With the financial dark cloud that is sweeping across football, can any club besides the PSGs and Manchester Citys afford to take such a risk?

The negative side of Balotelli is the one who will argue with his team-mates over who has first dibs on a free kick. We saw it at Chelsea between Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba, and the stupidity of it wasn’t lost when Balotelli fancied a similar argument.

He’s the type of player who can win you a league title. Unfortunately, he’s also the type who can lose it for you. He can find the net in style, making even the most simple of tap-ins look cool. But it seems he plays a big role in his team’s result, based on whether he has brought a clear head to the game, rather than one looking to fight anyone and everyone.

The latter was most appropriate in the final game of last season. Subsequent punishments aside, I would have loved to see Balotelli put Joey Barton in his place.

And maybe that’s the sort of player a club needs. No, not the one who will actively look for fights, but rather a player who wants to win and protect his own.

Balotelli seemed to give few problems to his country during the Euros, with a minor incident occurring when he had to be restrained by a team-mate following a goal. His attitude and actions following the final whistle against Spain was hardly classy but still understandable.

He’s a powerful athlete whose skills and presence on the pitch are well beyond his years. But it’s about permanently unlocking that ability and laying to rest the selfish and arrogant player who is now unwelcome at any club where Jose Mourinho rules.

The Euros were hopefully an indication of what we’ll see from Balotelli in the future. He was smart in his play and devastating in his finishing. That’s what City paid for.

He has the potential to be a valued member of a title-winning team, rather than just a gamble when his team needs a change.

Roberto Mancini has surely looked over his should a number of times while standing in the technical area, wondering which side of Balotelli is sitting on the bench.

He needs to prove he can be more than just a nuisance on the pitch. But the Euros were an encouraging step in Balotelli’s development.