Could Balotelli's departure puncture Manchester City's title hopes?
Mario Balotelli's transfer may come back to haunt former club Manchester City
Mario Balotelli's January transfer to AC Milan could potentially be one of the club's biggest regrets. There is no doubt that Balotelli has the potential to be a brilliant footballer, it's just nobody seems to realise it yet.
So far his career has been an entertaining mix of show business, controversy and footballing brilliance. He has had his ups and downs on and off the pitch, and has been in the headlines for both the right and the wrong reasons.
Balotelli joined Italian giants AC Milan in last month’s transfer window for around £19m, after the Manchester City owners grew tired of his antics. These included the time he set off fireworks in his own bathroom, and threw darts at youth team players.
It's easy to think that the 22-year-old's departure was the best move for the club, however this is not necessarily the case. The Italian has shown signs of being an incredible striker, for example at the 2012 Euros when he devastated tournament favourites Germany in the semi-finals of the competition, scoring two sensational goals to send the Germans home.
Despite a habit for picking up a red card, he always had the ability to produce footballing magnificence when City needed it most. It is arguable that without Balotelli, City would not have won the Premier League last term. Many people forget that he produced the assist for that dramatic goal that clinched City the Premier League title back in May.
He also scored a vital goal in the Manchester derby that helped his side record an impressive win over their rivals Manchester United, providing belief that they could win the title. Not forgetting a new catch-phrase; "Why always me?".
He may have been a real pain for City at times, but he is still only young, and has the ability to be one of the best strikers around. When the player completed his £24m signing for City back in 2010, manager Roberto Mancini said that: "His style of play will suit the Premier League, and because he is still so young there is a big chance for him to improve. He is a strong and exciting player and City fans will enjoy watching him.”
No-one can deny that he was enjoyable to watch, but the Premier League seemed to be a challenge that he was struggling to conquer. However, with a bit more time he could have continued to adapt to the league and improve as a player.
Currently sitting nine points behind rivals United in the table, City are looking increasingly unlikely to retain their title. Balotelli's ability to grab important goals has been missed recently, as poor results such as the goalless draw against relegation threatened QPR would show.
The player scored 20 goals in 54 appearances for the club, and has started brilliantly in Italy after scoring two on his debut for AC Milan on Sunday. In a few years time his price tag is certain to increase, and when it does, City might be asking themselves why they let 'Super Mario' go.
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