Liverpool misfit Balotelli joined Liverpool from AC Milan two year ago, with then-manager Brendan Rodgers spending a sum of £16million to get the controversial footballer.
Within a couple of months Balotelli’s name was plastered all over the front pages after dozens of fireworks were let off during an infamous 2011 party in his £3million rented mansion.
And after just 16 Premier League appearances, 26 shots and one goal, Balotelli returned to Milan on loan for the entire 2015/16 campaign.
Back in Serie A, the 25-year-old struggled to improve his touch in front of goal, netting just once in 20 outings in the Italian top flight.
Balotelli’s career has been such that people overlook his footballing talents and focus more on his antics. Nobody can forget the wonder goal he fired home against Germany at Euro 2012. His stint at Man City was sheer brilliance but then slowly he started declining as for some reason, he was unable to harness all his focus and dedication into the one thing that gave him fame in the first place – football.
It is too late to revive his Liverpool career, that much is certain. Manager Jurgen Klopp has told Balotelli (and the world) that he can leave Anfield as soon as he likes. But there won’t be many big clubs that will want to take a chance on him now.
Put aside his antics and Balotelli could have been a wonderful footballer. He is quick enough to play off the shoulder of centre-backs, big and strong enough to hold the ball up alone, clever enough to make space with just a touch or a turn, and impulsive enough to score now and then.
However, unless you nurture something, it can never grow. His attributes have to be cultivated, they have to be developed, and they have to be allied to a developing tactical understanding. Taking on such a player in a team would mean a lot of work and also be a bit of a gamble because such players have a lot of extreme ups and downs.
Klopp believes in the philosophy that sweat is the catalyst to turn an average team into a good one. He will almost certainly have watched tapes of Balotelli wandering around the pitch waiting for something to happen. Klopp will have heard the stories about Balotelli taking training games so lightly that at one point he got bored and smashed a 40-yard effort past keeper Brad Jones, which would have so much more impressive had Jones not been on Balotelli’s side.
You can’t behave like that in a Klopp team. But more worryingly, for Balotelli at least, you can’t behave like that for any team that has serious aspirations.
Wherever Balotelli goes next, he will need a good, strong manager. Someone who can succeed where Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini and Brendan Rodgers have all failed.
On the other hand, you cannot only feed a person food but you cannot make them swallow it and the same principle applies here as well – nobody can salvage Balotelli’s career but Balotelli himself.