Updated: Saturday, 25th May 2019 @ 8:13am

Debate: It was good while it lasted, but Mario Balotelli's Manchester City exit must come sooner rather than later

Debate: It was good while it lasted, but Mario Balotelli's Manchester City exit must come sooner rather than later

Comment by Matthew Lees

Both loved and loathed, a deflated Mario Balotelli dropped his tribunal against Manchester City and his defeated attitude could prove to be the final straw for the unsettled Italian.

He may have dropped his appeal against City’s £340,000 fine, but this is just the latest in a long line of incidents surrounding the striker.

The 22-year-old has been praised and ostracised by football fans, pundits and managers across the country due to his antics on and off the field.

Since joining City in August 2010 his performances and behaviour have followed on from his career at Inter Milan by being erratic and unpredictable.

In his first season at Inter, Balotelli became their youngest ever Champions League goal scorer when he netted against Anorthosis Famagusta.

However, during his second season problems began to emerge with Jose Mourinho excluding him from first team training and declaring him ‘unmanageable’.

Supporters were also infuriated when teenaged Balo appeared on Italian TV wearing an AC Milan shirt – a foolish act by a player had already been criticised by teammates.

Inevitably, the Italian moved to Manchester and linked up with his former manager Roberto Mancini, which reopened the doors for his talent to be nurtured.

He has shown flashes of brilliance during his two and half seasons at the Etihad – including his demolition of neighbours Manchester United during the infamous 6-1 battering last season, but ironically stole headlines when he revealed his ‘Why Always Me’ shirt.

‘Super Mario’ played a vital part as City won their first title since 1968 by being their third top goal scorer last season and his pass freed Sergio Aguero for the crucial winner against Queens Park Rangers.

And after becoming the first black player to play for Italy in tournament football, he impressed in the Euro 2012 semi-final against Germany – scoring twice in the 2-1 win.

Nevertheless, Balotelli has not kicked on from his successful summer and has only scored four goals for club and country this season.

In the recent Manchester derby he was hurled off shortly after halftime and was completely left out against Newcastle, perhaps showing even Mancini is getting fed up with the striker.

Back in 2010, when Balotelli was still somewhat of an unknown quantity in English football, he managed to score his first Premier League goal and get sent off in the same game.

Two years on and the Italian has become a familiar fixture in the referee’s notebook having received three red cards since March 2011.

During last season’s Premier League season he received nine yellow cards, two reds and a retrospective ban for stamping on Scott Parker.

Off the field, Balotelli has been comedy gold with various episodes involving him providing hilarity for neutrals but headaches for City’s management.

In December 2011, curfew was broken ahead of a crucial game against Chelsea as he went to a curry house with friends.

Balotelli was found to be having a mock sword fight with rolling pins.

Being a multi-millionaire footballer for the Premier League champions, it is sometimes forgotten that Balotelli is aged just 22.

He has had to grow up in the glaring spotlight of the world’s media as well as being fostered at the age of three.

Despite his obvious talent and youthfulness, he is now in his third season in English football – enough time some might say to adapt.

Last season, there was the embarrassment of Carlos Tevez’s six-month self-exile and it looks as if a different striker will cause hitches at the Etihad this season.

With Edin Dzeko knocking on the first team door and City fans hoping to see hot-prospect John Guidetti in a blue shirt soon, decisions need to be made about the future of Balotelli.

Balotelli cost £24million to bring to Manchester so the only viable options seem to be Paris Saint-Germain or a return to Italy.

Mancini has insisted Balotelli will stay despite his antics and being dropped for the trip to St James’ Park.

“Mario has a future – he was just at home only because he needs to work,” he said.

However, Mancini did say back in April after defeat to Arsenal that the striker had played his last game for the club.

Having split the football world, it seems as if Mancini is also undecided over Balotelli.

Nevertheless with Balotelli, in the team City’s win percentage drops from 72% to a much lower 58%.

With the January transfer window fast approaching, it could be that the decision to go to a tribunal in the first place could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But any interested parties will, of course, have to stump up a fee big enough to purchase the Mona Lisa.

Picture courtesy of Yahoo UK, with thanks

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