Mario Balotelli is in a bit of a pickle. Following being suspended for 11 league and European games games last season, his club Man City took the not-unreasonable step of fining him 2 weeks’ worth of wages. For super Mario, this was an affront – how dare they? He appealed within the club, and he lost. He’s now taken his appeal to the courts. That’s right – a player is taking his own club to court.
The worst thing about this is the current City manager, Roberto Mancini, has tried harder than most to protect him, stick up for him and defend him when he went astray. Balotelli has a long history of going astray – especially for someone who is only 22.
Prior to his time at Man City, Balotelli was practically unmanageable at Inter Milan – even under the guidance of super manager Jose Mourinho. Amongst his crimes was going on TV wearing the shirt of Inter’s rival club, AC Milan.
Inter gladly sold him to Man City in 2010, and Mancini was confident he would be the one to get Balotelli under control. Last season, he scored 13 Premier League goals in 23 games as City won the League, but also got sent off twice and was given a 4-game ban for stomping on the chest of Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker. Let’s not even get into him setting fire to his bathroom.
This season, like the rest of the team, Balotelli’s form has been indifferent. The problem Balotelli is having is how he’s reacting to these difficulties – throwing shirts to the ground and storming off down tunnels when substituted. He’s done nothing to show the should be ahead of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez or Edin Dzeko in the pecking order.
Add temper tantrums to poor performances and taking your own club to court, and you get a player who may well have played his last game for his club. The question is, where would he go? Who would have him? He’s on a reported £150,000 a week (over $240,000), and Man City would be keen to recoup most of the £22m ($35m) they paid for him.
There are not many clubs who could afford Balotelli – possibly only Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barca and Paris St Germain. Maybe some of the Russian sides could, but there are entirely different reasons for him not going there. Madrid and Barca don’t need a striker or the hassle. PSG already have a mercurial and temperamental striker, they won’t want another. Chelsea are completely nuts, but not THAT nuts.
It may be that if he wants a way out, AC Milan might be his best option. They don’t have the financial clout they used to have, but they might be able to scrape together enough cash for Mario to make a meagre living. Of course, he could just drop the court case, apologise to his club and team-mates and then put his head down and work extra-hard, but that’s really in the realm of fantasy.
Mark Cruise is a soccer writer for Rantsports. Follow him on Twitter: @chiefhairyman