Still a Liverpool player, Mario Balotelli has seen his playing time on loan at AC Milan seriously limited.
Italian prodigy has only played part in 16 games for Rossoneri and scored three goals since his summer move back to Serie A giants, but his stint has been distracted by a series of injury problems.
A changed man
Aware that return to AC Milan could be his last chance to get his career back on track, Mario Balotelli has behaved perfectly, which has come as a welcoming change to his former off-pitch antics. Still, a groin problem has prevented the Italian striker from making an impression with Sinisa Mihajlovic and Liverpool’s £16 million worth investment is sitting on the crossroads in his career.
Mario stayed out of trouble at San Siro and has seemingly become a changed man, ready to fight for his place under the stars.
It all started wonderfully with Mario Balotelli playing a huge part in Derby della Madonnina in September when he had a brilliant game in a wholesome positive influence on his team’s play. A free-kick goal against Udinese nine days later in his first start of the season was interpreted as an early sign of the things to come, but injuries played their unfortunate part.
Sinisa Mihajlovic has backed Mario Balotelli to be a success with AC Milan however, praising his behaviour at AC Milan ahead of the game at Atalanta. AC Milan are made 13/10 favourites to record a win and Mario Balotelli could play a part in AC Milan’s first game since return from the international break.
“His behaviour has been 10 out of 10 this year. He has to do more on the pitch, but he knows that as well and we’ve often talked about it. I’m certain we’ll succeed.”, MIhajlovic told Sky Sport Italia.
As the ongoing season draws to a close, Italian media claim that Liverpool striker could receive a bumper offer from China and that Mario Balotelli could become the last in line of high-profile European players to join the Chinese Super League.
It is reported that Jiangsu Suning have already held talks with Balotelli’s representative and that the Chinese club are willing to cash our whopping £11.8 million a year, which would see the Italian striker double his current wages.
Liverpool are still paying a big chunk of Mario’s £80,000 a week salary and Reds are thought to be willing to even let Balotelli go for free if the transfer fee becomes a stumbling block during negotiations, all in order to get him off the wage bill.
Chinese Super League have embarked on ambitious project that has seen clubs invest a great deal of money during winter to establish the Far East country’s league as top class and to raise the profile of the sport.
The Likes of Ramires, Gervinho, Jackson Martinez, Alex Teixeira are among the prominent names to have headed for China and Mario Balotelli is faced with a tough decision on whether to jump on the bandwagon which would be a perfect financial opportunity, but which still lacks a competitive edge.
Italy’s lost cause?
As Euro 2016 approaches, Mario Balotelli has eight games ahead of him in AC Milan’s shirt to try and convince Antonio Conte to include him in the squad that will travel to France this summer.
Italy boss Antonio Conte claims to have decided on 16 out of 23 places in his squad for the 2016 European Championship finals and Mario Balotelli will be eager to fight for his spot among the remaining seven.
AC Milan striker was left out of the squad for March friendlies against Spain in Germany and his omission will have raised doubts over Euro 2016 chances. The 25-year-old Italian forward has so far made 33 appearances for Italy, scoring 13 during that time for the Azzurri and is far away from having said his last for the International team.
Inclusion or omission in Italy’s Euro 2016 squad could be the breaking point in Mario Balotelli’s future however.
The Italian has so far demonstrated a lot of difficulties in coping with high-pressure situations and a possible and highly probable absence from Conte’s final list could spark a change in his behavoir, see history repeat itself or even push Mario closer to China.
A lucrative offer could turn out to be a consolation prize for the bad boy of Italian football and a way for Balotelli to drown his sorrow if he chooses to get away from the problem and pack his bags for a long trip East.
Money and a lack of competitive edge would perhaps make China a perfect scenery for Mario Balotelli to boost his confidence and come back to Europe stronger than ever.
But, could his potential move to China ruin the chances of ever getting back to Italy’s squad?