The 23-year-old Italy international has exhibited conduct issues at every club he has signed for, without reprieve it seems – if he were a 17-year-old still one might consider that he simply needs to mature but Mario Balotelli’s indiscipline both on and off the field is chronic. On the pitch, he can often be a liability to his manager and teammates, making rash challenges, not following instructions and getting himself dismissed on a regular basis, leading Jose Mourinho to describe him as ‘unmanageable’.
Off the pitch, his behaviour doesn’t improve – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is known to be a tough disciplinarian despite his grandfather figure persona – he accepts and tolerates only one hundred per cent discipline from his players and I can’t see Balotelli fitting his idea of a professional.
Meanwhile, Balotelli has been known to be the centre of friction in the dressing room at his clubs – often seeing himself as above the rules that apply to others and requiring special individual attention from the coaches, which can affect the morale and focus of his teammates. Arsenal have a tight-knit squad these days and its clear the team have a good group dynamic so I can’t see Wenger risking jeopardizing the confidence and morale of his squad with a wild card like Balotelli.
Balotelli has a similar kind of attitude as current Arsenal outcast Nicklas Bendtner whose career at Arsenal is about to come to an end. Wenger doesn’t want the Dane, mostly because his attitude stinks. He doesn’t work hard enough and is not prepared to earn his place in the team – Balotelli was much the same way at Manchester City. He would become aggravated and despondent under Roberto Mancini if he was benched instead of seeing that as a challenge to work harder to fight for his place.
Meanwhile, despite his obvious natural ability, Balotelli is not a particularly prolific goal scorer – he has scored 18 goals in all competitions for AC Milan which is two fewer goals than Olivier Giroud has scored for the Gunners this term. He has never scored more than his current tally anywhere he has been – he scored 12 goals last season, three the previous term, 17 before that and 10 in his first season in the Premier League. Whilst he can still improve with age, at 23, you’d expect a player of his talent to be scoring more regularly, especially for the kind of sums clubs have paid to sign him.
Which leads me to his price tag: £30 million for a player who has a proven track record as a liability is not going to happen at Arsenal. Wenger will only spend that kind of money on a sure bet. Balotelli has yet to fulfil his potential anywhere he’s been. He cost City €21.8 million, he cost Milan €20 million (notice his value decreased and City made a loss which is unusual for a player of 23 years of age) He has a contract until 2017 so Milan are not going to be in any rush to sell him which means they’ll want an inflated fee, above his actual value and Wenger just won’t do it. It’s too much of a risk and Wenger is the most financially conservative manager in the world.