Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli has threatened to hold Manchester City to ransom over his extraordinary wage demands. Transfer negotiations over Balotelli’s potential £25 million move from the San Siro to Eastlands have reached an impasse following the revelation that Balotelli and his agent Mino Raiola have demanded an astonishing salary of £180,000 a week for a player who is still in his teens.
Balotelli’s hiring in March of new agent Mino Raiola whose best known work was to secure the multi million euro deal which took Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona is a none too subtle move to take advantage of the riches available at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Raiola has a somewhat unsavoury reputation in Italy for being an agent whose sole interest is to make money. And lots of it. This is the agent who decided to create a false rumour that Barcelona has tabled a €70 million bid for Zlatan Ibrahimovic while he was playing at Juventus. This is the agent who threatened legal action against Juventus unless the club released his client from his contract. With Raiola’s track record, it’s pretty safe to assume that he’s looking to make as much as he can from Balotelli’s increasing protracted transfer saga.
While personal greed is certainly a factor here, (City have reportedly offered Balotelli a contract in the region of £70,000 a week), most of the blame has to be laid at the feet of the agents who have bred a culture of greed that has slowly permeated into the game.
In the case of Balotelli, Raiola was hired solely for the purpose of brokering a move from Inter Milan for the most money possible. Other agents prey on young players with potential who they then attach themselves to in the hope of possibly overseeing a big money transfer. The agents would then ensure that the player gets the most amount of money he can for his services while ensuring a healthy pay day for themselves through agent bonuses and signing on fees.
Balotelli’s diva-like antics have come as nothing of a surprise to those that have followed him throughout his short but chequered career.
While there is no doubt Balotelli has enormous potential, there have been numerous occasions where his temperament has landed the Italian in hot water with his coaches and the fans. Balotelli routinely butted heads with his then coach Jose Mourinho over his lack of effort in training. Their relationship reached an all-time low when Balotelli was left out of Inter Milan’s Champions League clash against Chelsea following an altercation between the two before the game.
Balotelli caused consternation amongst Nerazzuri fans when he was pictured on a national TV wearing the colours of their arch rivals AC Milan. Not content with angering the fans, Balotelli set about rubbing his teammates up the wrong way. Following Balotelli’s disappointing cameo against Barcelona in last season’s Champions League semi-final, Balotelli threw his Inter shirt to the ground and proceeded to storm off down the tunnel. This act of petulance sparked a fracas in the tunnel between Marco Materazzi and Balotelli which resulted in Balotelli needing a security escort out of the San Siro for fear of attack from irate fans.
In spite of all of Balotelli’s problems, Roberto Mancini must see Balotelli as a gamble worth taking. While in Italy, Balotelli was subjected to horrendous racist abuse from opposition fans and maybe Balotelli’s antics have been caused by the intense scrutiny he was under from fans and the media alike. If he does move to England, hopefully Balotelli will be rid of the abuse that has followed him in Italy and finally prove that he is worthy of such a hefty price tag.