If there is one player who has been making headlines for years, despite not actually making much of an impact for his clubs on the pitch, it is Mario Balotelli. With his grand personality, pompous statements in interviews and extravagant haircuts, Super Mario as he is often called by the media, has always found a way to stay in the spotlight, even if it meant doing something scandalous.
Mario Balotelli’s last two seasons were an absolute disaster when it comes to his playing achievements, as he was only able to score once for his club Liverpool during the 2013-14 season and just once on his loan to his former club AC Milan during the 2015-16 season in Italian Seria A. For a player of his talent, it was obvious that something was stopping him from reaching his true potential.
Just weeks ago, Mario Balotelli was announced to be joining the French Ligue 1 team Nice, on a free transfer. A new club and a new league meant that Mario would get a brand new chance to shine again, and from the looks of things he intends on doing just that.
Balotelli’s rise to glory
Born in 1990, Mario Balotelli first joined a major European side back in 2007, when he was signed by Inter Milan, a seventeen year-old at the time. During his first three seasons playing in Seria A, Super Mario scored 20 goals and showed his talents on the pitch, leading to UK giants Manchester City snatching the player in a €21.8 Million deal.
Mario continued at the same rate in England, scoring 20 more goals in his 54 appearances in the three seasons spent at the Etihad, but Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believed the player needed to return to Italy to truly shine and become one of the very best, allowing him to transfer to AC Milan in 2013.
Another €20 Million deal now under his belt and a season at one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs gave him a chance to show what he was made of, and he had every intent to. The year he spent at AC Milan would prove to be the best of his career, as he scored 26 goals in just 43 matches at the club, before once again moving back to UK.
The fall from grace
Mario joined Liverpool in August 2014, as the club hoped he could replace Luis Suarez, who had moved to FC Barcelona that summer. Everyone from media to fans and the club themselves were pretty sure that Mario would fit right in and do well from the very start, but this was far from true.
Balotelli ended up scoring just 4 goals at Liverpool, before being sent away for loan to AC Milan, where he continued his poor form, barely scoring and playing below even the worst expectations. Some of the plays Balotelli made while at Liverpool were actually so poor that they went viral on the social media and the player was ridiculed as a complete flop and one of the worst signings the team ever made.
More than his prowess as a player, Mario Balotelli was made famous by his oftentimes unbelievable antics. The player has been surrounded by controversy his entire career, and many believe his restless spirit is exactly what made him fall from greatness upon joining Liverpool.
To name just a few, media reported the player parking his Bentley in front of a high school, using the school’s restroom and leaving the scene, having a “sword fight” in an Indian restaurant the night before a big match in 2011, visiting a strip club the night before one in 2012, shooting fireworks in 2011, confronting high school bullies and giving $1.000 to a homeless person, after he won $25.000 in a Manchester casino.
While some of these are things a regular person could do innocuously, famous football players should know better than to give media a reason to talk about them, but Mario seems to enjoy the spotlight every step of the way and seems fairly unbothered that he is constantly part of controversies.
The new chance
As we already mentioned, Mario Balotelli has now joined Nice and his two goals in the debut against Marseille have caused the fans to go crazy, with everyone sure that Super Mario is back. Whether Balotelli will really return to greatness in France remains to be seen, but the player is claiming that the entire reason for his poor performances was the ultimate lack of understanding from Brendan Rodgers, who apparently had little love for the player.