A phenomenal talent in Inter Milan, an inconsistent player for Manchester City, a rigid and stubborn player at AC Milan and now a soon-to-be-labelled ‘bad body’ for Liverpool; meet Mario Balotelli, a man they love to hate.
Liverpool spent 16 million pounds on the gamble that is Mario, and he has so far produced a return of only four goals to abysmally justify his price tag.
While many fans took to the signing of the 24 year-old with a pinch of salt, it was inevitable that wherever Mario goes, rumour mongers and tale twisters follow. However, is that justified? Me thinks not.
In the latest episode in the series of the Balo show, against Bestiktas in the Europa League, the Italian assumed penalty-taking responsibilities from captain of the night, Jordan Henderson, as if inherent, to slot in the winner for the Anfield outfit.
While he may have gone against the words of his manager, as outlined by team-mate Steven Gerrard when he said, “Mario is being a bit mischievous by stepping in front of him and going against what the manager’s plan was before the game,” he won the game for the Reds.
Despite the furore that was caused by the fans, Balo was taking on more responsibilities – an act fans would rather see more of as opposed to infrequent flashes.
“Credit to him, he’s finished the penalty off – but it would have been very interesting in that dressing room if he had missed the penalty…. Fair play to Mario, he was terrific when he came on, he helped change the game in Liverpool’s favour and with pressure on his shoulders he slotted it away very well and it’s a big goal for us,” added Gerrard, appreciating the task on hand.
Truth be told, Mario is yet to settle into the Liverpool side, but not for the lack of trying. The formation and game adopted by the Kop side is not in tandem with the skill set acquired by the 24 year-old, thus he has found himself out of the first team all too often.
However, being the professional that he is – albeit a ‘mischievous’ one – Balo has forced his way into the manger’s plans. For the second time now, he has scored a goal to earn his side a result; a feat that shouldn’t be ignored for his chequered past.
Balotelli may never be the level-headed player he has been advised to turn into, however, its his fiery nature, peculiar ways and his atypical penchant of a character that sees him adopt the ‘wild card’ role.
He may not conduct business as usual, but thus far, he is making considerable effort to ensure that matters little. For Balotelli, it is the case of the end justifies the means.