It's a question on the lips of misguided football fans throughout England - why do Manchester City persist with Mario Balotelli?
With the January transfer window now in full swing, Balotelli has been linked with a return to his native Italy after his furious training ground bust-up with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini.
Fellow Premier League bad boy Luis Suarez has also become embroiled in yet another disciplinary row, after the Uruguayan striker appeared to handle the ball in the run-up to his winning goal against Mansfield in the FA Cup.
However, throughout its 20-year existence, the Premier League brand has always relied on ‘bad boys’ to encapsulate its eccentricity and enchant its millions of fans, all around the world.
The careers of both Balotelli and Suarez have been blighted by countless breaches of indiscipline - Suarez in particular has been involved in a string of far darker brushes with the FA, including an eight-match ban last season for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Many have suggested English football would be better without such scandals, and even Suarez’s less serious offence of habitually diving. Even before he had set foot in England, Suarez’s name had become synonymous with an incident at Ajax in which he bit PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal and received a seven-match ban.
Fans were given a glimpse of things to come in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final when he infamously hand-balled on the line against Ghana. There was global outrage when Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty and Uruguay eventually went through.
While nobody is suggesting that racist scandals are a good thing, perhaps training ground bust-ups and controversial penalty decisions are what keeps fans from going insane during football-less weekdays and international breaks?
Balotelli, too, has provided countless fashion and hairstyle insights for the more trendy supporter.
One thing the Premiership is rarely described as is dull, and the escapades of its most notorious stars have undoubtedly played no small part. Yet, it has arguably been weakened in recent years by the departures of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, with many of the world’s very top players choosing to ply their trade in La Liga.
Ultimately, the roller-coaster ride over the years brought by the likes of Joey Barton, Suarez and Balotelli has given England's top tier the extra edge that makes the Premier League the best in the world.
Barton’s escapades were part of the drama on the final day of last season, when the then-QPR midfielder lost his head against Manchester City and took an early bath before City made the most of their one-man advantage and snatched the title from under Manchester United's noses.
Drama, controversy and decadence are not exclusive to the Premier League, but nobody does it better. Why always us?
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