Sunday, 2 January 2011

Mario Balotelli - The Golden Boy

“Winning the Golden Boy is obviously a good omen for obtaining the main prize, which I have wanted from the very beginning.

“Who else would have won it other than me? There is only one who is a bit stronger than me – Messi. All of the others are way behind me.”

It was a strike of confidence. A quick shuffle, a look one way, and a calm finish put his side in-front. It was a strike of class, even if it was only a penalty. There was no celebration. He knew he could do it again. In-fact he did. Another jinking run up, making the goalkeeper stumble over like a drunken man, left him room to slot the ball into an empty net. A wry smile crept across his face. He had completed his hat-trick. It was nothing to be excited about. It was easy for him.

Mario Balotelli has never been short of confidence. Ever since bursting onto the scene as a 17 year old the striker has been unquestionably arrogant. Yet, at still only 20 years of age, Balotelli has the ability to back his egotistical statements up. In his brief time at Manchester City he has already scored 8 goals in 11 starts, including a hat-trick against Aston Villa.
But still he hasn’t been far away from criticism. It follows him around. Guardian journalist, Paul Doyle, recently named Balotelli in his “worst Premier League team of the season”. Considering his goalscoring record it seems a harsh ‘accolade’, Balotelli’s start to his Manchester City career, on paper, has been a very good one. Most would be proud of such a goal-scoring record, especially in their first season in the Premier League, a division notoriously difficult to adapt to.

After commanding a £22 million fee for his services Balotelli has something to live up to, of course he will be confident that he can justify the large price tag. Outstandingly talented when the mood takes him, at times, he looks the finished article already. However, when the mood strikes he can simply be an irritant that doesn’t listen. Jose Mourinho, his former manager, even stated that he “came close to a zero rating” on one of these ‘off days’.
The mercurial talent certainly has a lot of growing up to do until he is widely considered amongst the world’s best. This petulance has come to the forefront at Manchester City too - he stormed off down the tunnel when substituted by Roberto Mancini against West Ham United, his worst game for the club to date. His inconsistencies are perfectly highlighted below on the chalkboards. Against Aston Villa Balotelli was interested and was making passes all across the attacking third, attempting 22 passes. In the game against West Ham he only made 12.

Balotelli, it also must be noted, appears a divisive figure in the dressing room. Already he has created conflict within Manchester City, a team that has a number of players whose attitudes seem questionable, after fighting with Jerome Boateng. He has turned a number of players against him at former clubs too. Javier Zanetti, at Inter Milan, was quick to brandish him a “child” and Mourinho also heavily criticised the player’s attitude after he was caught wearing a AC Milan shirt whilst playing for their arch-rivals. And when he did make his return to the first team, after being excluded due to his attitude, he threw the famous black and white shirt to the floor in protest to being substituted.

“Super Mario” is a player with undeniable talent. He has an ability that is almost unrivalled and if he fulfills his potential he will surely become one of the best players in the world. However, whether he will realise his full potential is still questionable. Already, it seems, he is heading for an exit from Manchester, apparently homesick, it seems the club are also on the verge of signing Edin Dzeko to bolster their forward line.
It is suddenly becoming a question of where next for the 20 year old. A 20 year old who, on footballing ability, could play in any squad in the world still appears a gamble. The “Golden Boy’s” – an award for the best U21 player in the world which Balotelli recently won – future is seemingly hanging in the balance and it may not be long before Balotelli has used all of his chances up.

To view more on Balotelli please view:
· - Balotelli’s Wikipedia page

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