With a return to Liverpool at the end of his loan spell a likely conclusion to the season, Mario Balotelli provided AC Milan with a reminder of what he can be capable of at the weekend.
The Italian striker was impressive in the 2-1 defeat to Juventus, providing an assist for Alex’s goal while his all-round play showed fight, determination and the skill that he has not shown often enough.
While his ability is rarely questioned, it is his mentality, approach and desire that have been criticised throughout his career.
However, Balotelli has shown signs, albeit too briefly, during both spells with Milan, the club he supported as a youngster, that he wants to make sacrifices for his teammates and be successful.
It remains to be seen whether or not he has a future under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool beyond the summer, but with six games remaining in the Serie A season, he now has the chance to prove to the Rossoneri that a return to Anfield shouldn’t even come into the equation.
The 25-year-old has seen his season disrupted by injuries, poor form and competition for places. In turn, that has resulted in just three goals in 18 appearances in all competitions.
Nevertheless, Saturday night proved that he has plenty left to offer regardless of the critics and detractors who consistently look for excuses to bring his performances into question.
The key test for Balotelli now though is to add consistency, as it’s all well and good producing in a big game against the Italian champions, but can he repeat the trick and play a decisive role for his team away at Sampdoria on Sunday?
Sinisa Mihajlovic will likely give him the opportunity to do so off the back of his performance against the Bianconeri, and so once again it’s all in Balotelli’s hands as to where his future lies and whether or not he deserves a permanent deal with Milan.
Spells with Manchester City, Inter and Liverpool have never seen him reach his full potential, and there is an argument to suggest that the Rossoneri are essentially the only side that can get it out of him.
In what will be a critical six weeks for Balotelli, he must now repay the faith shown in him by Mihajlovic, the club and the supporters, and give them something to cheer about in return in what has turned out to be another disappointing campaign.