Four years ago Italian striker Mario Balotelli was considered one of the brightest young strikers in the world.
He had just helped the Azzurri to the final of Euro 2012 and produced a dominant display of attacking ability against Germany in the semi-finals, scoring a brace.
Fast forward to the present day and Balotelli is unwanted at current club Liverpool, after an unsuccessful loan spell back in his homeland with AC Milan.
The 25-year-old is back with the Merseyside club undergoing pre-season, but is not expected to stay with the Reds.
Klopp wants rid of Balotelli
Even Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has basically admitted that he wants the striker to move on this summer. The German boss told BBC Sport: “He’s not at the stage of his career where he should be battling with four or five players for one or two positions,”
“So it’s clear we need a solution. There will be a club who would be happy to have the new Mario Balotelli.”
It had been speculated that the striker was not in Klopp’s future plans and that has now been confirmed by Klopp’s statement to the BBC. Balotelli was brought in by Brendan Rodgers and even the now Celtic boss admitted that he felt the signing of the striker was a gamble.
Klopp is obviously attempting to build his own team, with his own style and Balotelli must not fit into that style.
Balotelli is wasting his natural attributes
Mario Balotelli is an enigma to say the least. The striker seems to have all the physical attributes to become a striker of the highest order, as he is big, strong and quick for a guy of his size.
However he has struggled to make an impact on the game since that influential display for Italy against the Germans four years ago. Maybe the problem with Balotelli is that he does not have the mental attributes to reach the top level of the game.
He often comes across as unprofessional and maybe he does not take the game seriously. Maybe he does not have the desire to reach the pinnacle of his profession. Balotelli has made some bold statements in the past.
The striker recently stated that he still believes he will one day win the Ballon d’Or. However to win that award he has to actually take game seriously and more importantly he needs to start taking himself seriously.
Balotelli is 25 now and not a youngster. The players that have won the Ballon d’Or have worked tirelessly to get to the pinnacle of the game. The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have not won the award by talking a good game, but by striving to improve themselves.
Natural talent is nothing without the correct attitude to go with it. It seems that Balotelli’s career has stalled because of his mental attributes, not his talent.
What now for Balotelli?
I have written many articles about Mario Balotelli, because to be honest he fascinates me. He comes across as a likeable guy, a joker, someone who would be easy to get on with. However he must frustrate the hell out of bosses and teammates on the pitch.
The striker has a tendency to make poor decisions, both on and off the pitch. His off-field antics while he was at Manchester City illustrated that perfectly. Making unnecessary challenges and getting in good positions only to fail to deliver is the story of Balotelli’s recent career.
Balotelli seems unlikely to be plying his trade in the red of Liverpool. AC Milan have also decided not to sign the striker on a permanent basis after his 23 game loan spell last season produced just three goals.
At the moment Sampdoria are favourites to be his club after the transfer window shuts at odds of 7/5, with a lucrative move to China also high in the betting with the bookmakers.
Wherever Balotelli plies his trade next season something has to change for the striker to rescue his flagging career. Maybe the striker is just destined to waste his natural talent and ended being talked about as a player who failed badly to fulfil his potential.
Can Mario Balotelli still have a successful football career?