Silvio Berlusconi’s recent comments about striker Mario Balotelli highlight just what a disruptive influence the Italian forward is.
The 24-year-old was sold to Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool in the summer and has so far struggled to fill the void left by Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona. As the Premier League giants have struggled, Milan have started the season steadily and could now be set for great things under new manager Filippo Inzaghi.
Despite boasting an impressive goal return few tears were shed over at the San Siro by the loss of their talisman. His questionable attitude had played a key role in Italy’s poor World Cup – where they were dumped from the group stages despite an opening win over England – and he had become the poster boy for one of the worst ever Milan sides.
Balotelli’s first spell in England with Manchester City saw him win the Premier League title, but was also laden in controversy and he was shipped back to Italy amid rumours of a bust-up with then City manager Roberto Mancini.
With Inzaghi keen to build a dynasty at his former club, he was unlikely to keep any troubled characters at the club and eventually moved for Chelsea’s Fernando Torres as a replacement.
Milan have thrived without the trouble centre-forward and currently lie fifth in the league table. Torres showed he still has the capabilities to play at the highest level with a stunning header on his league debut, whilst Jeremy Menez has had a huge impact since signing on from French giants Paris St Germain.
Stephan El Shaarawy has shone after missing large chunks of last season with injury, which has also coaxed the best from Japanese international Keisuke Honda who has been excellent in their new look attack.
Juventus and Roma already look set for an exclusive battle for the Scudetto, but Inzaghi’s priority will be a quick return to the Champions League after slumping to seventh last term. Only once they return to the land of the superpowers can their chances of domestic glory truly be enhanced.
Balotelli may yet prove the critics wrong and see his fortunes transform, but there can be no denying that Milan benefit without his presence. When on song he is exceptional, an outstanding bruiser of a striker, but players with similar characteristics rarely finish their careers drowning in winners medals.
The Scudetto is out of reach but the hope for a brighter future shines bright. Mad Mario is a disruptive influence and one fans of the Rossoneri are happy to be without.