If I told you my team had a player that is 20 years old, a dead-ball specialist, a technical maestro, and an extremely fast striker: you’d probably ask me who this superstar is? And why hasn’t he already been on the shortlist for the Ballon D’Or? Well, he is somewhat of a superstar, but he has a long way to go before he fills even the majority of his potential.
His name is Mario Balotelli, or Super Mario. He wears a sky blue Manchester City jersey on his chest and an all white pair of Nike CTR360’s on his feet. He was adopted at the age of three and gained Italian citizenship at the age of eighteen. He’s seen time with European giants Inter during their title run, had a trial with Barcelona, and has been hailed as the future of Italian soccer. He’s good for at least one goal every three games, and he’s got that average with never truly seeing constant first team football.
However, he hasn’t been a model Citizen (pun intended) during his playing career. He’s had issues with coaches, issues with fans, issues with other players, issues with agents, and even issues with water bottles and training bibs. Even the great ego-manager Jose Mourinho couldn’t handle Super Mario’s antics.
Mario has spent most of his entire career with Inter, and even some of his career with Man City, stating that his favorite team is AC Milan. He even has been seen wearing an AC Milan kit out in public. This isn’t just a “I grew up a fan,” situation; this is a “I’ll only truly be happy when I finally transfer to Milan,” situation.
So why do teams even attempt to sign him? Because he has the potential to be amazing. So where do you send Mario? Is the only true place to satiate his behavior within the red and black stripes of the Rossoneri? Who knows…Balotelli has never seemed to back away from his bad image, and a move to his “favorite club” might not even solve his problems (and believe me, you’d think putting him in a locker room with Rino Gattuso would fix everything).
Is he the future for the ’06 World Champions Italy? Once again, only time and a vast amount of maturing will tell. Most of his performances in an Italian kit have shown potential, but with personalities like Cassano and De Rossi in the locker room, inserting Mario in the midst could prove explosive.
Will we see Super Mario placed on the same level with Messi one day? Don’t laugh, because this player truly has the potential to become one of the world’s greats. However, if he doesn’t find his “happy medium” soon, he may become one of the biggest disappointments that Europe has ever seen.
Written by: Andrew McCole, EPL correspondent, soccerprose.com
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