Can coming home to Brescia revive Mario Balotelli’s career?

While growing up, it was difficult for Mario Balotelli as his parents were unable to provide the needs to their child. He was born in Palermo, Sicily, and when the Italian striker turned three, he was placed in foster care to the Balotelli family when his own family was unable to pay for his health care.  His foster parents lived in Concesio, Brescia, and when he turned 18 years old, he was able to apply for Italian Citizenship. On August 13, 2008, the Italian officially gained citizenship in Concesio.

While growing up hasn’t been easy for the Italian, neither has been his playing career. The forward’s playing career has been a roller coaster ride and he has seen good and bad, however, has been unable to show consistency due to his maturity level. Balotelli didn’t become familiar to fans until he arrived to Inter Milan in 2006, after an unsuccessful stint with FC Barcelona at the age of 15. In his time with Inter, the striker scored 28 goals in all competitions with the Italian club.

In his first season with the club, he had a productive season in which one notable goal came and he became the youngest player for Inter to score in a Champions League game. At 18 years old, the Italian scored in a 3-3 draw against Anorthosis Famagusta FC. His hard work in his first season gained attention to earn a spot with the Italian National Squad. 

While his first season with the club was productive and successful, his second season under coach Jose Mourinho wasn’t the same. Under his time with the Portuguese coach, he was labeled as a player who didn’t try in practice and his work ethic could have been better. The tension between the player and coach grew throughout the season until Mourinho decided to exclude Mario Balotelli from the first team in the second half of the season.  

After an eventful time with Inter, the striker was transferred to Manchester City where he reunited with his former coach from Inter Milan, Roberto Mancini. At the time of his arrival, the Italian coach was excited and thought that his style of play would be suitable for the Premier League and would be a good chance to improve as Balotelli was still young.

While he won the Golden Boy Award with Manchester City in December of 2010 and showed signs of improvement, such as scoring his first Premier League hat trick in a 4-0 win over Aston Villa, the coach lost patience in his second season with the striker. 

Due to the striker’s poor attitude throughout the season in matches, the coach became irritated and upset with him. Balotelli received four red cards in his second season with Manchester City. His fourth red card was in the match against Arsenal and it was at that time when Mancini lost his patience and decided that the striker would no longer be part of the City’s season, although he did make an appearance as a last substitute in their last game of the season.

The relationship between the player and the club became worse and in January 2013, Manchester City sold Balotelli to AC Milan. When the sale was made, Roberto Mancini stated, “For me, Mario was like another one of my children” and that he had the potential to be one of the best players in the world by restoring himself in Serie A. 

In his debut with AC Milan, the Italian striker showcased his talents as he scored two goals including a late penalty kick which had earned the Rossoneri a 2-1 win over Udinese. His first two seasons with the club were productive as he tallied 30 goals. After two seasons, he went to Liverpool, yet in his second season with the English team, Ballotelli was sent on a season long loan to AC Milan. The striker never lived up to the hype in his time with Liverpool. 

After his time with Liverpool, he decided to take his talent to the French League where he signed with Nice. The striker, once again, regained form as his first two seasons were productive and he scored 15 and 18 goals, respectively, which also earned him a spot back into the Italian National team. In his third season with Nice, it didn’t fare as well, as the forward was late to pre season and seemed out of shape while also having a fallout with their new coach Patrick Vieira, which saw Balotelli left out of the first team and only making ten appearances for the squad. 

In January, Balotelli terminated his contract with Nice and signed a contract with Marseille which kept him with the club until the end of the season. In his short time with the French squad, he scored eight goals, once again displaying his talent and what he could do for a club. An eventful journey to say the least about the Italian striker. 

Balotelli had a career path which has shown signs of brilliance and potential but at the same time has been held back due to his lack of maturity. While the striker has shown the ability to score goals with most of his success being in Serie A, his inability to train hard and show full effort has also been his downfall. While his antics on the field have been a problem, his off-field issues have been another problem for the Italian. 

Mario Balotelli has taken the next step in his career and is playing for his hometown Brescia. It has been an eventful journey for the Italian and fans will now see him back in the Serie A, where most of his success has come from. 

Hopefully it will not be the last stop for the forward, however, it’s a club which could use the striker this season. If Balotelli is able to produce how he has in the past, focus on his game and avoid the drama, not only will he will make Brescia a better team, but there is the chance of him making the national team. Robert Mancini has stated, “I hope he can see returning to his hometown as an opportunity to relaunch his career. He is 29 years old and should be at his peak. A player of his quality cannot totally lose everything he showed over the years. It depends on him.”

Roberto Mancini is correct about the striker, as he’s shown the ability of being a world class striker. The inability to be mature and consistent has been his downfall. However, reuniting with his hometown Brescia might be what the forward needs. It is a fresh start, he knows his surroundings and is with a team who is willing to accept him. At the end of the day, it’s up to Mario Ballotelli, as he’s the only one who can make this work. 

By: Jerry Mancini

Photo: Reuters