Mario Balotelli probably did not imagine that his up-and-down two-and-a-half year stint at Manchester City would rank as the most successful period of his career.
The madcap Italian endured a strained relationship with manager Roberto Mancini at times and found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons on more than one occasion. But that 2012 Premier League, sealed thanks to that 94th minute Sergio Aguero goal that Balotelli himself assisted, remains the most recent piece of silverware the striker has picked up.
And with City looking fearsome this season under Pep Guardiola, Balotelli has insisted that he would be more than happy with a return to The Etihad once his contract at Ligue 1 side Nice comes to an end in the summer.
“I love City, the Manchester City fans and the club. I’d happily go back there for free. It was the best year of my life, even if the city is a little difficult to live in,” Balotelli told Gazzetta dello Sport.
But while a return to Manchester looks unlikely with even Aguero no longer a guaranteed starter, there’s a club a few miles down the road who would apparently be more than happy to hand Balotelli a third chance in England.
According to Calciomercato, an Everton side crying out for a number nine are considering a shock swoop for Balotelli, after Nice’s president admitted they are unlikely to hang onto the former Inter and AC Milan star.
Signing a striker who has 10 goals in 12 starts to his name on a free looks great business – if you overlook the fact that Balotelli only recently spent a disastrous 18 months at bitter Merseyside rivals Liverpool.
But if he had things his own way, a move to Manchester rather than Merseyside would be on the cards.