He was once one of the most promising young talents in the soccer world. A wonderful scorer with questionable moral decisions off the field. From 2011-2013, Mario Balotelli was one of the most talked about young talents in the world.
But as we fast forward to 2016, the striker is no longer a “young talent”. Balotelli is now 26 years old and seems go further and further down the forgotten list as the years go by. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has publicly announced that he does not count on Balotelli for the season and AC Milan don’t seem to want bring him back for another loan.
In a time and age where stats speak more about a player than their actual game play, Balotelli’s numbers aren’t helping his case in any way. During last season’s loan at AC Milan, “Super Mario” had more yellow cards (6) than goals + assists (2) in the 20 games he took part in. In fact, he’s failed to score more than three goals in the past two seasons. In 2014-2015 with Liverpool, Balotelli scored three goals in all competitions after a $22 mil transfer to Anfield.
For a striker, confidence is one of the most important elements of the game. If a striker is having a hard time scoring, his level of play will also deteriorate. However, once that striker can put one away and get his confidence going again, his goal drought will most likely end. We’ve seen it multiple times throughout the years. Most notably with Luis Suarez as he ended his suspension and made his debut with Barcelona.
On the other hand for Balotelli, it’s not quite that simple. He lacks consistent minutes he needs to regain his footballing peak. During his best seasons in Manchester City, he was a consistent starter alongside Sergio Aguero. Same thing occurred when he was with AC MIlan in 2013-2014. Overall, he’s a striker that feeds off goals and creating chances. If he cannot seem to get the minutes and participation he desires, it’s difficult for him to rise up and be the player he was once.
Fortunately for him, he’s still at an age where he can still turn his career around with the right decisions. But to start the resurrection of his career, his first step is to leave Liverpool. Klopp will not give him the minutes needed therefore, he must look for a change of scenery. Even if that means leaving Anfield for a much inferior team. Italian side Bologna were rumored to be interested in signing the Italian striker but appear to have backed down. Jose Mourinho, a former manager of Balotelli at Inter Milan, suggested that he joined a second division english team to get more minutes and confidence back. It would be a big transition for “Super Mario” who is accustomed to playing in some of Europe’s best teams but he must understand that realistically speaking, no “big” team will want him after the last two horrifying seasons.
Now, if he does manage to transfer out of Liverpool before the summer transfer window ends, it’s crucial that his behavior remains acceptable. As we all know, Balotelli is known for his idiotic decisions off the field at times. As entertaining and hilarious as those were, those times have come to an end. The theatrics were acceptable because he was young and irresponsible and because he was putting the ball in the back of the net. If your striker is netting goals, you can get upset with him all that you want but you’ll continue to use him. Nonetheless, if you’re not scoring AND you’re up to no good, teams wont hesitate on showing you the exit immediately. That means better decisions on AND off the field.
Most of us had different perceptions of where Mario Balotelli would be at the age of 26. Granted he’s far from where he could’ve been, but there’s still time left for him. He’s approaching his “prime” years and he cannot afford to waste any more time. I personally agree with Mourinho and think he should sign with any team, small or big, that can guarantee him consistent minutes. If he starts to take the game seriously for once in his life, I’m sure he can reach his highest level once again. For the sake of the game, I hope Mario Balotelli can once again be “Super Mario”.