Mario Balotelli: The Marmite of Football

Mario Balotelli can be described as the ‘Marmite’ of football. You either love him or you hate him. It’s incredible to think that he is still only 22 years old. In a short period of time he has won the Premier league title with Manchester City and was part of Jose Mourinho’s treble winning Inter Milan side.

After a turbulent two years at Manchester City which saw him have countless falling-outs with manager Roberto Mancini and problems off the pitch such as allegedly throwing darts at the Manchester City youth team because ‘he was bored’ and being allergic to grass. Mancini always seemed to have faith in him and was described as being ‘sad’ when this transfer was set in motion.

At the end of the day you have to admire the efforts of Mancini to get Balotelli concentrating on his football. Even the great Jose Mourinho has described Mario as, ‘unmanageable’ during his two years at Inter.

This could be the fresh start Mario Balotelli needs, his transfer from Manchester City to AC Milan could be his last chance to make himself a footballing legend for the right reasons. There is no doubt that AC Milan is one of the most prestigious clubs in the world. They used to produce the best teams in European football which were made up of the icons of attacking football such as; Marco Van Basten, Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi to name a few.

However, this current Milan squad is a long way off the great teams of the past. This season has been particularly bad for the Rosseneri; they were hovering around the relegation area for the first few weeks.

This could be put down to the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the summer. That hole in attack would be difficult for any team to fill. The emergence of Stephan El Shaarawy has made the departure seem less apparent but in the end a team the size of Milan must be challenging for the title with a Champions League spot the bare minimum.

Milan has confirmed the signing of Mario Balotelli for £19.5m on a four year deal. The potential for this attack for both Milan and the Italian national team is exciting, especially with Mario’s performance at the recent European Championships.

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri now has the task of choosing between five strikers; Stephan El Shaarawy, Bojan, Giampaolo Pazzini, Robinho and now Balotelli. One formation that has been spoken about is a 4-3-3 which is unusual for Milan of late with the three pronged attack of El Shaarawy/Balotelli/Robinho. This obviously has the potential to be the best in Italy.

With Nigel De Jong out for the season and Urby Emanuelson surprisingly sent on loan to Fulham for the rest of the season, Milan, on paper, still have enough fire power to push on this season, with Kevin-Prince Boateng, Ricardo Montolivo and the emergence of M’Baye Niang more than capable of controlling a midfield of three. Milan could even try the ever growing 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 formations that many teams in Italy are incorporating now.

Massimiliano Allegri has had problems in the past with the man management of his players with reported bust ups with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pippo Inzaghi. If Mario Balotelli doesn’t concentrate on his football and causes problems like he has in the past, the already under fire boss could have his work cut out for him as he has probably never had to manage a player like Balotelli.

I personally hope that Mario Balotelli does make it at Milan. Their team is rebuilding and are definitely boasting the best young talent in Italy at the moment. He has already scored for Milan during their 10-0 mauling of Darfo Boario who sit in the 4th division in Italy.

His return sparked a riot within the Milan Ultra’s so it’s safe to say the Mario Balotelli era at AC Milan has begun.


Written by Tom French

Follow him on Twitter @TomFrenchy91

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