Farewell Mario

MANCHESTER – Goodbye and good riddance, or thanks for the memories? After three years in Manchester, Mario Balotelli is heading back to Italy in a deal worth almost £20 million. It is a financial loss for City, but is it a loss to the Premier League?

Report by Daily Mail

He’s pretty reliable from 12 yards. Beyond that, his reliability is akin to that of Del Boy’s three-wheeler, the £25 million man is a plonker.

Whenever discussion turns to the striker, as it inevitably does on an almost daily basis, I’m reminded of the old phrase, “just because you are a character, doesn’t mean you have character”.

Football’s great characters – George Best, Eric Cantona, Paul Gascoigne, Paolo di Canio – filled column inches off the pitch, but however, serious their indiscretions without the ball, they demanded headlines for what they achieved with it.

Aside from his destructive, whirlwind performance against Germany in the semi-final of Euro 2012, where he single-handedly dumped Spain’s biggest rivals out, the Italian has shown little to justify top billing.

When one thinks back through the three years Balotelli has dominated the news agenda in the Premier League, skills, goals or match-winning contributions are a mere footnote to the training ground fights, lurid tabloid tales, silly hats, red cards and disregard for the rules. The only explosive thing about this guy were the pyrotechnics he let off in the bathroom of his home.

Even City’s 6-1 demolition of Manchester United – an iconic scoreline of 20 years in the Premier League – isn’t remembered by the seismic shift it represented in the football landscape, but for the “look at me” celebration of City’s main attraction. Why always you, Mario?

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