Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli has revealed that he hopes to continue with the Premier League giants next season as he returns from an unsuccessful loan spell.
The 26-year-old will return to Anfield after spending last season at AC Milan, but doubts remain over whether or not he’ll figure in Jurgen Klopp’s plans moving forward.
There was a real improvement in the Italian forward’s attitude last season, as he worked hard for the Rossoneri but lacked the quality in the final third to make a significant impression.
As he now faces another crossroads in his career, it remains to be seen where he goes next but he still harbours hopes of fulfilling his potential and becoming the player he was tipped to be years ago.
“In my view there weren’t enough [expectations of him], as I can do so much more than what I said. But it takes time,” he told Corriere della Sera. “On the scale of 0 to 10, I stopped at five, but I’ll get to 10 eventually. I want to get there. I will win the Ballon d’Or.
“I do realise that I’ve spent two years of my career when I could’ve been getting closer to 10 and instead stayed at five. I know, the Ballon d’Or might seem laughable and I might not have done everything to be the best, but the important thing is I realised it’s not too late.
“I don’t want to reach the end of my career with the regret of not doing everything I can to be the best. Up until two years ago I made do with what I had. I did well, knew I could play, so I was happy. It wasn’t in my mind to improve, as I thought that was enough.
“Over the last two years I started working seriously, yet the results did not arrive. Maybe I am paying the price for the previous 23 years. I am relaxed, though, as I am aware that in the last two years things have changed completely.
“I hope to play at Liverpool next season. Milan decided to leave me. There will certainly not be another Mario’s back again moment there.”
As obvious in the comments above, it’s clear that Balotelli is mentally now in the right place, and it’s a shame that it has taken him this long to get there.
Now the real test is marrying that determination and motivation with quality on the pitch, and if he is able to do that, then perhaps we could still see the best of him in the coming years.
Klopp will have to decide if there is a place for the Italian in his squad, which looks unlikely, and so another move could be in the offing for the former Manchester City ace.
It will be an important decision though, as after failing in his time at Anfield, it’s unclear as to whether any interested parties remain and are willing to meet Liverpool’s demands for the player.