It’s never nice being a footballer in exile. We’ve seen it time and time again – players that have been big favourites once upon a time before bang, another manager comes in and they find themselves on the peripherals.
You can’t help but feel sorry for players like Juan Mata, who always seems to have not-so-friendly Jose on his tail- a manager that just doesn’t feel he does the right job in his set-up.
But on this occasion we’re turning our attention to Liverpool, and one character in particular: Mario Balotelli.
Super Mario is one of the games’ biggest characters, both on and off the pitch, but recently, he’s struggled for form wherever he’s been.
A failed loan spell at AC Milan has done little to reintegrate him into the Liverpool squad and it now looks extremely likely that he’ll leave the club this summer.
But where to next? Here are FIVE suggestions…
It seems that Turkey’s top sides have never had trouble attracting quality players from England and could this be the destination that resurrects Balotelli’s career?
Mario Gomez had a fantastic season at Besiktas last year and this allowed him to make the German national team for the Euros, proving Turkish football is still held in high esteem by top international managers.
Take Martin Skrtel for example, who has just made the move himself.
A permanent move to Italy might make sense for Mario, who may need the familiarity of his homeland to truly settle again.
And a side that would benefit from his quality (when he chooses to display it) is Lazio, who finished eighth in the league last season.
Balotelli would boost a forward line that already boasts the likes of Ricardo Kishna, Filip Đorđević and Keita.
One of the surprise packages of the season could be Middlesbrough, who have been extremely active in the transfer window this summer.
They’ve already brought in former Manchester City man Alvaro Negredo on-loan, and could you imagine partnering him with Balotelli? Boro fans can dream, but Karanka has shown some intent with who he’s brought in so far.
Could a move to big-spending Monaco revive Balo’s career? The cash-rich Monte Carlo club have already brought in Premier League-fancied Djibril Cisse this summer and they do well in Ligue 1 season after season these days.
A third-placed finish last season means European football is well and truly on the cards- but would Mario be prepared to move to France?
It hasn’t been considered that much, but could Jurgen Klopp perform a U-turn and decide to offer the Italian one more chance?
Let’s face it, he can be excellent when he wants to be, but at this point in his career, he should be at the top of his game. If Liverpool give him one more season it really is make-or-break for a player of which so much was expected.