The return to the Premier League of one of the most enigmatic strikers in football has happened as Mario Balotelli completed his £16million move to Liverpool from AC Milan on Monday evening. I, for one, am chuffed to have him and his bizarre personality back in the media spotlight in the UK.
This is a man who nearly burned his house down after letting off fireworks in his bathroom. He’s quite something.
Balotelli’s early career in Italy was brought to an abrupt halt, when playing for Inter Milan he appeared on television wearing the shirt of bitter rivals AC Milan. After a somewhat turbulent time under manager Jose Mourinho he was rescued by his former boss Roberto Mancini with the chance to sign for Manchester City.
Becoming part of the first City team to win the league since the late 1960’s he became a firm favourite amongst the fans on the pitch, but his reputation off the field has always followed him. Described as ‘crazy’ by Mancini and ‘unmanageable’ by Mourinho this kind of gives you an idea of his character.
Some of the stories are true, others turn out to be rubbish, but one thing you can guarantee is that he’ll always gather column inches. I’m sure Liverpool and their fans will be hoping it’s for on the pitch achievements rather than those antics off it, as arguably one of the last things they need is another controversial forward.
One thing he’ll always be remembered for is the “Why Always Me?” T-shirt he unveiled after scoring against Manchester United for Manchester City, the day after the fireworks incident. Whether something similar could happen again in the Merseyside derby remains to be seen!
One question remains though – Can Mario Balotelli fill the boots of serial biter and fellow enigma Luis Suarez?
He certainly has the ability to score goals. His record is good if not spectacular. His pace, power and technique are undoubted and he is what you could call a perfect player for the Premier League. The only thing you have to question is his disciplinary record; he racked up the suspensions whilst at Man City and has been described as ‘immature’ on more than one occasion by the English press.
Mario Balotelli could be the final piece in Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool jigsaw. It could be a difficult task fitting the Sturridge and Balotelli pieces together in that same puzzle though. Only Rodgers knows what system he’ll move forward with and where Balotelli fits in. It’ll be incredibly interesting to see what he decides. Whether that means one of Sturridge or Balotelli playing a wider role or, undoubtedly the more exciting option, both Sturridge and Balotelli forming a partnership through the middle.
Can the Italian character help secure that coveted title for Liverpool? That is one question that will only be answered in 9 months time but one thing is for sure – with Mario Balotelli in the Liverpool team it’ll be one hell of a ride!
By Carl Gac – Scunthorpe United fan – @