Depending on your view point you were either overcome with joy or suddenly paralysed with melancholy when we said ‘arrivederci’ to Mario Balotelli in January. The Italian international had long been either a magnificent source of entertainment or the Premier Leagues stand-out wazzock, depending on your viewpoint, for the last few seasons since arriving at Manchester City from Inter Milan.
Either way one thing you could never say was that he was not an engaging character and while he never really showed it whilst in the country it has now become very clear that he was not a fan of the British press.
For every time you picked up a red-top or clicked onto a football content website there was always some ludicrous suggesting that Mario Balotelli had dressed up as Santa Claus, driven his Bentley Continental into a schoolyard, handed out money at a shopping centre or set off a bunch of fireworks in a bathroom; each with their very own varying levels of truth.
Indeed I am pretty sure he swam out into the Thames during the boat race, was the only person in the UK to go see the film John Carter and by night swung from buildings as a masked vigilante mutant arachnid. Of course I am being dramatic but the point remains, we all enjoyed reading an extremely tall tale about Balotelli’s lifestyle.
So when he moved back to his beloved AC Milan it was certainly not a surprise and I am quite shocked at how nice it is to see him smiling again after his time at Manchester City was perpetuated by that sulky grimace.
It seems one person in particular played a large part in his happier times in Manchester, Mancini. No not Roberto but Andrea; the manager’s son.
When you think about it there were very few peers in the City side with which Balotelli could communicate. Not many players of a similar age with which to relate. However Andrea was and not only that but he was also Italian and an acquaintance from their days at Inter Milan together.
According to Mancini Sr in 2011 his son had ‘tamed’ the mercurial striker. However before the start of this season Andrea was released and joined Spanish side Real Valladollid. After that any hope of Balotelli staying at the club appeared to be lost and the writing was on the wall; his exit was seemingly sealed the moment they released Andrea Mancini from his rather lacklustre spell at the club.
Now back in his homeland Balotelli has the likes of Stephan El-Shaarawy, Mattia De Sciglio, Bojan and M’Baye Niang to keep him company; something that appears to be contributing toward some great early form back in his homeland.
Perhaps if there was more company with which Balotelli could have found common ground during his time in Manchester there may have been a different outcome to his time at the club. Or as many are already starting to expect his destiny was simply to play for AC Milan.
image: © mafue