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Who is Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli?

Manchester City’s young Italian striker they signed from Manchester City in the summer has had more controversy follow him than compliments since his arrival in the Premier League.

Having recently declared that only Lionel Messi is better than him right now, one has to ponder if his head is screwed on correctly and whether current manager Roberto Mancini can get his mind in the right place to walk the walk after giving all the talk.

Mario Balotelli was given just six minutes at the end of Manchester City’s 3-1 win at Newcastle on boxing day. It was enough time for the Italian to pick up his third yellow card of the season. The result puts Manchester City into second position in the Premier League as they maintain their push for Champions League football, or even an unlikely first Premier League title this season. Balotelli probably thinks they’re going to win it anyway…

The former Inter Milan forward’s late substitute appearance came after four consecutive Premier League starts without a goal or even assist. That culminated with a 2-1 home defeat at Everton prior to Christmas. A return to the starting line-up for Nigel de Jong in Balotelli’s absence proved to be a good choice by Roberto Mancini as his side ran out 3-1 winners at Newcastle.

In eight Premier League appearances for Manchester City, Mario Balotelli has two goals; both against West Brom, in which he picked up a red card in the same match. In three of his eight matches he has been on the losing team. Manchester City have only lost one other Premier League game so far this season (at Sunderland). He has shown poor teamwork and work rate in the limited action we have seen of him this season. Clearly the kid has talent. Bags of it. But he is not showing us it. Similar to Robinho during his time at Manchester City, he is a frustrating player to watch. Perhaps mentioning Paulo Wanchope amongst Balotelli and Robinho isn’t appropriate.

The 2010 Golden Boy award winner (previously won by Rafael van der Vaart, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas amongst others) has half of the 2010/11 season left to show his ability on a consistent basis to prove his worth this season. He is being given the opportunities by his manager, but when will he deliver? Or is a move to AC Milan still on his mind?

Manchester City have had a number of internal problems this season and Balotelli has been one of them. Claiming to be a better player than Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas doesn’t make things better when you have done nothing to prove this to the world.

Manchester City face Aston Villa on Tuesday – this is Mario Balotelli’s next opportunity to deliver his first man of the match performance in the Premier League. There is plenty to play for with City currently sitting in second position.

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