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Speculation of Mario Balotelli’s possible move from Manchester City to AC Milan this month has been illuminated by stories of the striker mysteriously giving up his highly expensive rented property in Cheshire and inspiring an Italian hip-hop artist to write a song about the pitfalls of native citizenship.
There have been no stories of mass-philanthropy at petrol stations or schools, but indication all the same of the slapstick nature that has followed the character during his time in Manchester that maybe coming to an end.
For somebody who tested Jose Mourinho’s patience to the extreme upon his emergence with Inter Milan and possessed enough lack of wit to appear on national television wearing the shirt of their bitter city rivals, the £24 million move to Manchester City in the August of 2010 as Inter finally gave up on the attacker’s eccentricities and passed him on to his first Internazionale coach and mentor Roberto Mancini, was never going to be the smoothest of rides.
Two years and six months later, Balotelli is rumoured to be on his way back to Milan with his reputation for the petulant, unreliable and utmost frustrating well and truly installed. 27 yellow cards have been picked up at Manchester City and four reds, the most costly one being the scissor tackle that threatened to derail his side’s title chase with defeat at Arsenal last April.
Despite the wretched indiscipline that, just like Mourinho, has driven Roberto Mancini to the edges of his faith in his apparent talent that looked to have finally broken during a training ground fight in December, the manager still appears to hold support for his prodigy whose agent has claimed that any January move is unlikely.
“I’m not interested in negotiating with anyone” says Mino Raiola, “Mario stays at City,” which may go someway to delighting Mancini who, as some are quick to point out, has never voiced a desire to sell the player and is said to be the only member of the City hierarchy to still hold patience in the 22 year old despite ironically being the one who Balotelli has let down the most.
Too often there hasn’t been the ruthless efficiency in-front of goal that adorned Euro 2012 and neither has there been too many moments to replicate the “why always me?” motif of his two-goal inspiration in the 1-6 thrashing of Manchester United at Old Trafford. Instead the more everlasting images have been Mancini furiously reacting on the touchline to another misdemeanour, withdrawing him immediately after a needless back-heel in a pre-season friendly and from a woeful display in this season’s Manchester derby.
It was his inclusion in that game that indicated Mancini’s relentless mission to siphon the best out of Balotelli, which he has chosen to just restrict to mere glimpses, and what initially sparked Mancini to pay out the £24 million fee 2 years ago. City are seeking to recuperate £31 million for the striker, an extortionate ask when it is considered the frequency of which the Italian has proved an encumbrance to his employers.
Adriano Galliani, AC Milan’s vice-president, has said his side are eager to sign the troublesome player and expressed a willingness to negotiate, while Silvio Berlusconi has been entirely negative towards the projected move, conflicting reports that show in microcosm how much the enigmatic striker splits opinion.
Any opinion that is, apart from Roberto Mancini’s which remains completely unswayed on what his man can eventually offer to Manchester City once his shoddy attitude stops betraying the talent he possesses.
Aside from the misadventures and the comedy that has incurred his time with City, a return of 30 goals from 75 is a modest total from two years in east Manchester where he has played a significant role in a period of incredible success; he was man of the match in the FA Cup final win over Stoke in 2011 whilst as well as twenty goals last season, his measured pass to provide Sergio Aguero for his last gasp goal that sealed City’s first ever league title would have achieved him immortality in City’s history despite the infuriating underbelly of this chapter of his young career.
Balotelli has played just 31 minutes of football since that erroneous decision to field him in the derby at the start of December, but as City once again go in pursuit of their neighbours for a successive Premier League title, his services could well be needed again as he currently sits on the bench awaiting a possible shot at redemption.
If Milan’s interest passes in this window without action, as is looking increasingly likely, it will give Mancini another 5 months to launch one last desperate attempt to give the striker a chance to prove he was worth the trouble all along.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow him on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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