Throughout his career, we’ve seen the better moments of Mario Balotelli and we’ve certainly seen some of the worse moments of the Italian international.
Mario’s time spent at Liverpool F.C last season seems to have cast a dark cloud upon the Italian forward’s career. It has many football fans believing his best days are behind him. From 16 appearances in the Premier League, Mario would only score 1 goal for Liverpool, via WhoScored.com. The evidence to validate the claim behind Mario’s downfall was certainly there.
This past August, Mario would return to the club he supported as a child, AC Milan, after leaving them the season before. It was to be a 1-season dry loan and not much was to be expected from the move other than Mario to be used as depth for the attack. This assumption was given some doubt based on Mario’s performances wearing the Rossoneri colors once again. His performances were very similar to those he had for Milan in his first run with the European giant. He would be seen creating chances for his teammates and becoming a nuisance for the opposing team’s defense.
His accuracy from set-piece situations was certainly still there with the 1 goal he would score against Udinese helping Milan get a crucial victory away from home. Based on his four appearances in his second run so far with the Milanese club, there is enough reason to believe Balotelli could still be a deciding factor for his team.
Balotelli has been injured since his last appearance made against Genoa back in late September. His return is expected to be made in Milan’s first game of 2016 in January against Bologna. Based on the performances and improved attitude he had before getting injured, there is a chance that Balotelli has turned the corner and maybe finally realized this could be his last opportunity to prove his worth.
Comparing the Mario we saw at Liverpool to the one we see now, it’s night and day. He seems to be much more mature on and off the pitch. Not once has the ex-City outcast had any significant incident since returning to Milan. He has been able to keep his calm during matches too.
Many events that have happened in his life such as becoming a father and being away from his family likely have contributed to this fresh, positive attitude now being shown. They have literally given Mario a second wind in his career.
Not only will Mario be wanting to prove his doubters wrong when he returns, but he will also be wanting to secure a spot for Italy’s Euro 2016 hopes in June.
A few weeks ago Italy’s head coach, Antonio Conte, had the following to say about Mario Balotelli, via Football Italia:
He can’t wait for what? To watch us on TV or to play in the Euros? It’s up to him, just as all the others, to prove himself. He has to prove a lot. Really a lot. I have not closed the door on anyone. There are five months to the tournament and things could change. However, things have to change in a clear and substantial manner. The players who took us to Euro 2016 qualification have the advantage and someone really has to impress to break into that group.”
Conte’s words about Mario are not encouraging by any means, but it’s a strong message given to the Italian forward confirming what he needs to do in order to receive a call up to the Azzurri and cement his place for Euro 2016 in France this Summer.
Mario must show the same desire for Milan that he did when he first arrived at the club back in January of 2013. He has a lot to prove and it must start in his potential return against Bologna. Even if he doesn’t always start for the rest of this season, he must make the most of whatever playing time he can get from Milan coach, Siniša Mihajlović.
This is truly Mario’s last chance to succeed and even if there is enough reason to believe he will fail, there is at the same time enough reason to believe Mario can rise up to the occasion and not only become a protagonist for Milan, but become a protagonist for the better of himself.