With Liverpool reportedly set to wrap up the signing of Milan's 24-year-old striker Mario Balotelli in the near future, it is worthwhile taking a look at some of the player's highlights, to better understand just what Brendan Rodgers will be getting for his £16 million.
Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny that wherever Balotelli goes he is box office, full of incident, both good and bad, and more than happy to entertain football fans around the world with his antics.
Many have compared the Italian's madcap behaviour to former Liverpool star Luis Suarez, but he is of course a much different figure. Not the tireless runner on the pitch that will stop at nothing to win like the Uruguayan was, he is nevertheless someone with the gift for the unpredictable that Brendan Rodgers will hope to cultivate only in a positive direction. If the Anfield boss is successful, he may end up with one of the most enigmatic yet gifted forwards in the Premier League.
Below we list a few of the former Manchester City man's choice moments, with them able to be placed in three categories - the good, the bad and the funny.
The Italy international is undoubtedly a character, somewhat that Liverpool fans will come to love despite any occasional misdemeanour. On top of that, he has for a long time now been a player on the cusp of greatness, going on goalscoring runs that look like the beginning of his ascent to the best forwards in the league, only for something to interrupt such form. He is a set piece specialist, capable of powerful free kicks from a variety of distances and with an exemplary spot kick record.
Unfortunately, Balotelli's comedic side does hide somewhat of a tendency to boil over at times. He received 4 red cards in his two and a half year spell at Manchester City, causing him to miss a grand total of 11 games for the club. Sending offs while at Inter and at Milan, and a further two red cards while playing for Italy have continued to see his temperament questioned. A stamp on Scott Parker during a game with Tottenham in 2012 saw the forward suspended by the Premier League, while Balotelli was also fined by City for throwing a dart at a youth team player. The second yellow in the Italy clip below wasn't particularly nasty, but his reaction as he exited the pitch shows that he is a player often on the edge of an outburst.
Something that comes with the striker's character is his slightly goofball penchant for pranks and general odd behaviour. The Reds might have to install some bib guides to avoid his infamous difficulty negotiating such sportswear during training and before matches as can be seen below. Some other peculiar moments are his allergic reaction to grass when playing in Kiev, and the many off the field moments such as fireworks in his bathroom, £10,000 in parking fines and untold training ground stunts. Then of course there is the "why always me" t shirt. We'll see what Stevie G makes of all that!
Despite any problems that may arise from his arrival, it is clear that Balotelli, as a potential world class striker, is a snip at £16 million, and with 88 goals and 36 assists over his career, including 13 in 33 for Italy and 30 in 54 for Milan, the benefits far outweigh the risks.