Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has compared his team-mate Mario Balotelli to world superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Argentina international also admitted to sometimes feeling frustrated by the antics of the eccentric Italian striker, claiming that “sometimes you want to kill him”.
The 27-year-old did add that, although he can be unpredictable and get up to mischief, Balotelli is ultimately a good laugh and a nice person.
Zabaleta goes even further than that, however, and insisted that the most mercurial talent in Roberto Mancini’s squad could eventually be held in the same regard as such global talents as Messi at Barcelona and Ronaldo at Real Madrid.
“As a player he has a great talent. If he wanted I don’t know if he would be fighting the Ballon d’Or with Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] but he would be close to being one of the best strikers in the world,” he said in an interview with Omnisport.
Zabaleta also feels that Manchester City have the perfect manager in Mancini to be able to deal with Balotelli’s erratic character and get the best out of the 22-year-old they signed form Inter Milan in 2010.
“I think there is nobody better than Roberto [Mancini], who had him at Inter and brought him here, to make Mario able to be mentally prepared to want to carry on growing,” he added.
Balotelli got his first Premier League goal of the season against Wigan Athletic last week and will be hoping to kick on from there.
A turnaround in scoring form for the Italy international would be a welcome occurrence for the defending Premier League champions, as they have looked quite laboured going forward in recent weeks.