Over the years there have been few players that have rocked the world of football like Mario Balotelli. Liverpool are now on the cusp of signing the player who is genius and lunatic in equal measure.
Balotelli’s on and off field antics have been well documented, and to give the less informed a taste of what the issue is, this is a man who drove straight past security and into a women’s prison. When questioned by the authorities, Balotelli simply stated as a matter of fact “I’m just taking a look around.”
Balotelli is a throwback in the mould of Paul Gascoigne or George Best, or perhaps even Diego Maradona at push. He is football’s latest rockstar.
Where the world of football, like most things, has gone all P.C., Mario Balotelli represents a sort of ‘Keith Moon’ figure – one who bows to no man and is master of his own destiny.
He may not have driven a Rolls Royce into a hotel pool like the late drummer from the Who, but he has thrown darts at a Manchester City youth player out of boredom. He also managed to crash his Audi R8 shortly after signing for City in 2010, while carrying £5000 in cash, and when he was questioned by the police casually stated “Because I’m rich.”
He is perhaps best known for setting fire to his own bathroom while playing with fireworks, only to score a day later in the Manchester derby and revealing a printed shirt with “Why always me?” on the front.
Aside from his self-destructive nature, Balotelli is an unquestionable talent, boasting a scoring rate of nearly a goal every other game, though it remains to be seen if he’s able to form a meaningful strike partnership with either Daniel Sturridge or Raheem Sterling in the Liverpool frontline.
It does mean that The Reds will have pace to burn up front, and while that may frighten any opposition defence, his often-selfish nature in front of goal could be equally detrimental. Sturridge himself has been found guilty of squandering goal-scoring chances through selfish behaviour, so it remains to be seen what the pair of them are able to do together.
So while Balotelli’s signing is made amid a cloud of doubt and trepidation, it should be borne in mind that Sturridge’s arrival at Anfield was met with a similar sentiment, and that faith in a player maligned has been richly rewarded.
Thus, as Liverpool fan, I am cautiously optimistic at the prospect of having a prodigious talent fielded by my team, though his tempestuous nature raises a few concerns at the same time.