“I told him, if you played with me 10 years ago I would give you every day maybe one punch in your head. There are different ways to help a guy like Mario. I don’t speak with him every day, otherwise I would need a psychologist, but I speak with him because I don’t want him to lose his quality. If Mario is not one of the best players in the world it will be his fault, because he has everything. Mario can be one of the top players in Europe. I don’t want him to lose his talent “.
Roberto Mancini, April 2012.
Germany’s hope of reaching the grand finale of the 2012 European Championships was single-handedly dashed by a 22-year-old Mario Balotelli.
The then Manchester City striker was deemed the next big deal on the scene after Messi and Ronaldo, and it was believed only he could break the duopoly held by the aforementioned 2 as far as the Ballon d’Or goes.
4 years later, things have headed south for the once very-promising (ex) Italy international.
From assisting Sergio Ageuro’s EPL-winning goal to training with Liverpool reserves and youth team, it definitely didn’t go down as many would have expected for the “why always me” man.
Having turned out for the Milan clubs, Manchester City and Liverpool in his short career, seeing him being linked with low tier clubs wasn’t anticipated. But that’s how bad things had gotten for the 26-year-old who will now lineup for Ligue 1 outfit, Nice next season.
It’s where he will hope to revive a dying career that could only produce 4 goals in 2 seasons, and the question remains if he will ever reach the almost-lofty heights he once baked in, talkless of surpassing it.
Despite arriving the French club on a free after securing a transfer deadline day move, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher believes ” Balotelli on a free is still paying over the odds by Nice. ”
It goes to tell how much risk comes with the football bad boy who tries to tell everybody he’s now a more matured and changed man. (Disclaimer?)
Signing Mario was/is seen as a risk by most managers as his behavior on and off the pitch never did go down particularly well at the time.
His scuffle with Roberto Mancini during a training session while at Man City is still fresh in many coaches’ memories.
But even if that is to be discarded as having come from an immature youngster, seeing such a breakdown in relationship between a father-figure of a manager and such player who maintains the coach is the most understanding he ever worked with says a lot.
Partying notoriety, physical injuries, constant lack of fitness and a “bad” reputation are demons Mario hopes to put behind him as he starts a new chapter in his footballing life at France.
Will he be able to do just that? Prove Jamie and the likes wrong and prove his ever-supportive agent, Maniola right?
Nice finished 4th on the log in the Ligue 1 last term and to an extent are a “big” side. The move looks like the last opportunity for the controversial player to rescue his career, and nobody can say for now how that will go.
At the moment, he remains one of the once-upcoming prodigies who never fulfilled his potentials.
He will remain so unless he can score at least 15 (14 being his highest ever) league goals this season.
It could just be the end for Balotelli. Even the most optimistic fan of his won’t put up an impressive claim to defend that.
“I’ve finished my words for him. I’ve finished. I love him as a guy, as a player. I know him. He’s not a bad guy and [he] is a fantastic player. But, at this moment, I’m very sorry for him because he continues to lose his talent, his quality. I hope, for him, he can understand that he’s in a bad way for his future. And he can change his behaviour in the future. But I’m finished.”
Roberto Mancini, April 2012.