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Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli – Foolish or Fantastic?

The whole football world has, by now, seen or heard of Mario Balotelli’s attempt to score with a complicated back-heel against LA Galaxy. Even Manchester City fans might agree that it was a strange thing to do instead of trying to score normally, and he will be the only person to know why he did it. It has earned world wide criticism about his attitude and behaviour, including from manager Roberto Mancini and several of his teammates. Mancini was clearly incensed and as soon as James Milner could warm up, and the manager hauled Balotelli off, after just 30 minutes. Mancini hoped it served as a lesson to the young forward.

However, failing to score with a misdirected back-heel in a pre-season tour match is far from the worst of his problems. His disciplinary issues are well documented; they range from throwing darts at Manchester City youth team players, and appearing on an Italian talk show sporting an AC Milan shirt, whilst playing for cross-city rivals Inter. His current behaviour could possibly be fueled by being racially abused from Juventus fans in particular – one of their chants was “Black Italians do not exist.”

Despite his record off the field, his undoubted talent does not go unrecognised. He has played for two of the biggest clubs in Europe, being Inter and City – and was named man of the match in the 2011 FA Cup Final for the latter. He was awarded the 2010 ‘Golden Boy’ awarded for the top player under the age of 21 in Europe. However, upon receipt of the award, he said that only one of the players that received it before him was only slightly better than him (Lionel Messi) and he claimed to not know of the player that finished second, being Jack Wilshere of Arsenal. This perhaps shows a touch of arrogance about his play, which is compounded by that now infamous back-heel in America.

Whether he is an attention seeking fool or a fantastic young talent is for time to tell and the people to decide upon. He is only 20 years old and has a full career ahead of him. However, whether his talent becomes wasted and his career is dominated by more poor behaviour is for Balotelli to decide for himself, if he wants to change his ways and settle down.

Although we know one thing is for certain – we will be hearing the name Mario Balotelli many times in the future, but right now we are not sure for what…

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