by Dan Beale

With Roberto Mancini admitting to reporters last night that Mario Balotelli is due in Milan for talks today (Wednesday 30th January), it finally seems that his spell in Manchester has come to an end. The 22 year old Italian is to join his ‘boyhood team’ AC Milan in a deal thought to be worth £19 million. Balotelli has fallen down the pecking order this term with Aguero, Tevez and Dzeko being Mancini’s preferences in attack, but how much that is to do with footballing ability, only Mancini knows. For a striker, a record of only 1 goal in 14 games this season leaves a lot to be desired but the unpredictability of Balotelli may have helped City this season as they have struggled to break down defences with the ease they did last season. Either way, he has certainly left his mark on the Premier League.

The football purist is probably more than happy to see the back of him and the controversy that seemed to follow him around. A regular in breaking club curfews and acting irresponsibly off the pitch often lead to the back pages being filled with his latest antics. From throwing darts at youth team players out of boredom, to setting his bathroom on fire after a firework accident, Balotelli acquired a reputation from the media which lead to yet more stories and attention on his off the pitch behaviour. However many of the stories, which are taken as gospel by Balotelli fans, are fictional and have been used unfairly as a stick to beat Balotelli with.

What cannot be deemed as unfair, is the criticism of his behaviour on the pitch and the training ground. To describe Balotelli as a loose cannon would only go some way to describing his unpredictable nature. For a player of only 22, who has demonstrated such clear signs of his footballing ability, he should be mixing it with the elite of European football. Instead he is causing outrage with training ground bust-ups with club captain Micah Richards, multiple red cards, the Scott Parker stamping incident and provocative actions.

His spell in the Italian side during Euro 2012, in which he spearheaded the Italians to the final, really showed the ability Mario possesses. Three goals, two of them being against the Germans, and two fantastic performances against England and Germany showed a real maturity in Balotelli. He was clinical in the box, he worked hard for the team, harassing defences and chasing back and for those few games you could see what the hype was about.

Back to English football and the form shown in the summer had deserted Balotelli. After a string of uninspiring performances and a well documented training ground bust up with Mancini, Balotelli has been reluctantly sold by Mancini to beneift the harmony within the group. So we have it, Balotelli is on his way to AC Milan. The Premier Leagues ‘entertainer’ has left. But fear not, Mario was involved in exactly the same amount of controversy at Inter and with him now joining fierce rivals AC I would keep an eye on the Italian league over the next few weeks.

It could be fireworks.

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