Mario Balotelli is one of the most sought after strikers in Europe at the moment, with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and AC Milan all reportedly chasing the 19 year old Inter Milan striker. Possessing bags of potential, Balotelli has an ego as big as his talent and has had numerous high profile run-ins with Inter boss Jose Mourinho in recent weeks.
The 6 foot 3 striker, who goes by the nickname “Super Mario”, has had a turbulent relationship with the Special One and was left out of the team for six games in March, which included the victory over Chelsea in the Champions League, after a very public spat with Mourinho. Balotelli has since apologised to the Inter boss, and returned to the side in Inter’s victory over Bologna recently, scoring the second goal in the 3-0 win.
Balotelli was banished from the first team because he was caught wearing a AC Milan shirt on a TV show and publicly declared his support for Inter’s fierce rivals. The Italian youngster was even at Old Trafford to watch Milan’s defeat by Man United in the Champions League. Balotelli apologised for the incident, saying:
“I apologise for the situation that has been created in recent times. I am the first to suffer because I adore playing football and I would like to play. Now I will wait silently in order to return and be useful to the team”
He may now be back in favour at the San Siro, but considering his volatile relationship with Mourinho, it won’t be long before another argument arises. The pair have clashed numerous times, over Balotelli’s attitude in training and performances in some games, notably in the draw to Roma, where Mourinho said the youngster should have been given a zero rating. It seems like it’s either Balotelli that goes, or Mourinho leaves, as both plainly despise each other.
So why is Balotelli so in demand? Tall, powerful and fast, the Italian striker has quick feet, sharp agility and is a good finisher. Combine that with his age (he is only 19), then Balotelli can be an excellent player in a few years once he matures. This season for Inter, the striker has scored 8 goals and weighed in with 4 assists in 22 games (11 of which have been off the bench). His attitude is a problem; Balotelli has clashed with Mourinho, his teammates and is generally despised by everyone in Italy, particularly Juventus fans. But that immaturity and lack of discipline will be solved with age, as it is hard to forget that he is still a teenager.
So where can we expect to see Balotelli next season? The Italian has fallen down the pecking order at the San Siro, with the likes of Diego Milito, Samuel Eto’o and Goran Pandev all competing for places. Arsenal looks to be his preferred destination, and Man City have also expressed their interest recently. There were rumours that Balotelli could be used as a makeweight in a deal to bring either Cesc Fabregas or Steven Gerrard to Inter, but both Arsenal and Liverpool don’t want to sell their prized assets. A figure of £15 million has been quoted for Balotelli and a move to the Premiership in the summer looks likely.
Balotelli needs an experienced manager, who can use a father-son approach with him to get the best out of him. This was echoed by Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini recently, who said:
“With a young 19-year-old player he must be educated, instructed and you need a father-coach that gives him good sense, affection and serenity. Rossi uses this type of approach with his players, but Mourinho doesn’t with anyone, maybe not even with himself.”
Therefore, someone like Arsene Wenger, Carlo Ancelotti would be perfect for Balotelli, someone who know how to develop young players and get the best out of them. Roberto Mancini could also be included, as he has worked with Balotelli at Inter. Expect a flurry of bids for the talented youngster in the summer, as all of England’s big clubs fight it out for Balotelli’s signature.
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