Could there have been an ulterior motive behind AC Milan’s transfer of Mario Balotelli?
Let’s back track slightly and take things back to the point where AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi called Mario Balotelli a ‘rotten apple’ and suggested there was no chance he would sign for the Italian giants.
Now bring things forward with Berlusconi being hailed for engineering Balotelli’s return to Italy and a chance for him to redeem himself on a home stage in front of his adoring Italian fans.
So what changed?
Well, the simple mater of parliamentary elections coming up could have something to do with it. Several national newspapers have suggested that the simple acting of signing Balotelli is worth two points to Berlusconi in the opinion polls.
Now this doesn’t mean it was a deliberate move on the part of the Milan owner to make himself more popular but there’s no doubt it’s helped, especially considering the number of scandals Berlusconi has been involved in.
It just seems quite odd because when Berlusconi has been questioned about the football side of Balotelli in the past, when rumours first started over a move, he wasn’t exactly complimentary.
He implied that Balotelli took trouble with him wherever he goes and he seems to have brought that onto his own club in the hope that it works for him instead of against him.
There is very little doubt that Balotelli divides opinion among football fans and the fact he’s previously played for Inter Milan will mean there is a large chunk of Milan already against him for the fact he’s joined their arch rivals.
It won’t really make any difference or mean much to Mario however, who just seems quite content as long as he’s playing football for a massive side and earning a lot of cash in the process.
What gives strength to the suggestion that this is a political move are the comments of Gabriele Albertini, a former member of Berlusconi’s Party, now allied to the party of current Prime Minister Mario Monti.
Albertini has likened modern day footballers across Italy to the gladiators of Ancient Rome in terms of their fame, popularity and pulling power.
The head of the centre-left Democratic party Pier Luigi Bersani even tweeted yesterday that he was contemplating making a move to try and sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona as he thought it would boost his popularity.
What do you make of this? Is Berlusconi using Balotelli?
image: © olaszmelo