AC Milan’s decision to sanction the sale of star striker Mario Balotelli to Premier League outfit Liverpool could represent a shrewd piece of business for the Italian giants.
The striker, who found the net 30 times in 54 appearances last term as the club failed to land a Champions League spot, returns to England on the back of yet another turbulent phase of his career less than two years after departing Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City.
There is hope on Merseyside that the maverick can fill the void left by Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona, but for Milan and manager Filippo Inzaghi they can look forward to a calmer – and perhaps brighter – future.
Balotelli touched down on English shores for the first time in the summer of 2010, having left Inter Milan for the rigours of the Premier League.
He had been linked with a move to Manchester United, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s doubts over the striker’s temperament left him free to join United’s city rivals.
Though the 24-year-old enjoyed certain moments of brilliance – none more so than his brace in City’s 6-1 thumping of United at Old Trafford in October 2011 – his failure to evade the front pages of the national newspapers ultimately hindered his time at the Etihad stadium.
For every act of the sublime came a story of the ridiculous, with the Italian notoriously lighting fireworks inside his house and also attracting the ridicule of the planet for his failure to put on a bib in training.
Mancini ultimately called time on his bizarre City career by selling him to Milan in the winter of 2013 for a fee of £19 million.
Balotelli was meant to be the icon of a new era at Milan, but despite establishing himself as one of the planet’s finest marksmen his time back at the San Siro will not be remembered fondly.
30 goals is an incredible return, of that there can be no doubt, but Milan’s malaise ensured it would not be a spell laden with silverware.
Massimiliano Allegri and Clarence Seedorf was the men tasked with taming the controversial Italian, but despite succeeding off the pitch the results on it ultimately saw both men axed from the hot-seat.
Up until yesterday Inzaghi has remained firm in his belief that the former Inter player would remain at the Rossoneri, but Liverpool’s bid of £16 million will now see him grace England’s top flight for the second time.
Suarez’s exit has weakened Brendan Rodgers’ side, but in Balotelli they now possess a striker full of potential that could wreak havoc and form a lethal partnership with Daniel Sturridge.
Milan have a sizeable transfer kitty to alter the squad, with Jackson Martinez of Porto chief target after a fruitful season where he found the net 29 times in 51 games.
Roberto Soldado is another that could replace Balotelli, but convincing Tottenham Hotspur to cut their losses on the striker so early into Mauricio Pochettino’s reign could prove difficult.