If a cat’s proverbial nine lives were akin to chances in football, Mario Balotelli would be king of the felines.
The enigmatic Italian international has played for a plethora of massive clubs throughout his career, including both AC Milan and Inter in his homeland as well as, of course, Manchester City and Liverpool in the English Premier League. Without a shadow of a doubt, his talent is there for all to see, but unfortunately, controversy also seems to follow him wherever he goes.
Whether it was wearing a Milan shirt on satirical Italian TV show Striscia La Notizia while playing for Inter in 2010 (a big no-no considering the massive rivalry between fans of the two Milan-based clubs) or that infamous “Why Always Me?” incident during that October 2011 Manchester Derby that sparked infinite memes, Balotelli certainly knows how to keep his fans – and detractors – talking.
Well, after a frustrating spell at Liverpool that saw him net just four goals in 28 appearances across all competitions, followed by a dismal second stint at Milan in which he managed just three goals overall, Balotelli ended up over at ambitious Ligue 1 side Nice. It seems like the French Riviera has done the volatile 27-year-old a world of good, as he scored a respectable 17 goals in 28 games during his debut campaign, the first time he’d cracked double digits since his 2013/2014 days with Milan. He has improved even further in his sophomore term, with 21 goals to his name so far.
Not surprisingly, that has got his ever-present outspoken representative, Mino Raiola talking up a move back to the Premier League given that Balotelli’s contract is set to expire this June, with “numerous clubs in Italy and England being interested.”
And to cap it off, any prospective buyer would be getting him on a bargain, given his “astronomical” price tag, as per Raiola himself.
How? Well, according to Balotelli’s agent, he’s worth about €100 million ($123 million), but thanks to his contract expiring, he will be available on a free. However, any prospective Premier League buyers could already face some pretty stiff competition from Balotelli’s native Italy. Current Serie A league leaders Napoli, as well as reigning champs Juventus, last season’s runners-up Roma, and curiously, even Inter, are among the clubs that have already had put forth inquiries concerning Balotelli’s availability this summer.
So will Premier League fans see the return of “Super Mario” next season? We will all certainly be curious now to see what unfolds next.