The novelty of Mario Balotelli has long worn off. English football has grown tired of him and so too have Manchester City, with the Italian moving to AC Milan. We may think he will be missed, but he won’t.
The reaffirmation of Balotelli’s talent has become something of a cliché. And like most clichés therein lies a basis of truth. Indeed he possesses exceptional talent.
But the real truth is as his City career progressed the moments of magic became fewer and further between. By virtue of his indifferent performances this season he no longer warrants patience from manager Roberto Mancini and the club’s supporters.
Fun in English football is at a premium and undeniably Balotelli has been a rare source of it
Once labelled as the Eric Cantona for the blue side of Manchester, Balotelli remains a favourite with the City support, but in much the same way the British public adores Boris Johnson. It is his madness and eccentricity that makes him so popular, but unfortunately for Balotelli, football, unlike politics, is not determined by popularity.
His performances for Italy at the 2012 European Championships, particularly against Germany in the semi-finals, offered hope that the 22 year-old would finally come of age.
Yet rather than herald a progression in Balotelli’s career that display represents the peak of his powers to date. Those two goals in Warsaw are as good as it’s got.
The English media will miss the Italian, including the snappers that have made peeking over the fence that shields City’s training pitch at Carrington their beat over the past two years. But will English football? No. Will City? Certainly not.
Even last season, when he netted 20 goals, Balotelli’s most valuable contribution to City’s season was his sending off in a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal. At the time the title appeared to be United’s, yet his suspension forced Mancini to recall outcast Carlos Tevez to the side and City registered six straight wins to lift their first title for 44 years.
This season he’s found the net just four times in 21 appearances. Balotelli isn’t just being cast off on account of his volatile character. It’s no longer the case that his exceptional talent excuses his erratic and disruptive nature.