9 Sep 2015

€42m star raves: Liverpool attacker is a 'phenomenon' who can 'turn' games by himself. Agree?

In England, Mario Balotelli is one of the most reviled footballers to ever kick a ball in the Premier League, and over the years, no fewer than NINE ex-Liverpool players have publicly excoriated the Italian, and perpetuated negative myths with exaggerated and overly emotive criticism. Outside the UK, though, it's a different story, and Balotelli's talent is, for the most part, appreciated, and after recent praise from both Andrea Pirlo, and Milan CEO Adriano Galliani, PSG star Thiago Silva is the latest person to publicly praise the Italian.

Last month, Pirlo hailed Balotelli as 'one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet', and claims that he 'has all the attributes' to be one of the 'top forwards in Europe'.

Then, at the beginning of September, Galliani praised Balotelli for his 'extraordinary attitude'.

Speaking to Italian newspaper Gazetta Dello Sport on Tuesday, Silva - who cost PSG €42m - enthused:

“On the field he [Balotelli] is a phenomenon. He can turn a game by himself”

I'm under no illusions about Balotelli, but from my detailed research into the player (i.e. checking 'rumours' against any available factual evidence), 90% of the allegations against him are (IMO) exaggerated, embellished, and totally unsubstantiated.

It really gets my goat to see 'fans', the media, and pundits continually spread misinformation, lies, and factually unsupportable falsehoods about Balotelli (or indeed anyone), and that's the main reason I regularly defend him (and others, such as Sturridge, who has/had a false media-perpetuated reputation for arrogance/attitude issues).

The media are at it again this week, gleefully laying into Balotelli for the heinous and unforgivable act of speeding. Yes, it's stupid, but ultimately, who cares? Plenty of footballers have been caught speeding in the past (Bendtner, Lampard etc), and ordinary people fall foul of speeding rules every single day.



As for Silva's contention that Balotelli [LFC salary: €6m] is a 'phenomenon' who can 'turn a game by himself'. He's not the only one who thinks that. In March 2014, Napoli legend Diego Maradona told UAE TV channel +N

"If I were the president of Napoli, my first decision would be to sign Mario Balotelli. He is a phenomenal player and there would be no problem controlling him. If there was ever a problem with Mario, I would take care of it personally and everything would be fine."

I'd love to see Maradona manage Balotelli. When it comes to controversy, charisma, and media interest, they're cut from the same cloth, and the Argentine almost certainly has a greater understanding of the Italian's mindset than Brendan Rodgers, who's never played the game at the highest level.

It's no surprise that Mourinho and Rodgers have struggled with Balotelli - neither manager has any significant top-flight playing experience, and perhaps there's a link between that and failing to get the best out of him (though Mourinho got significantly more out of him than Rodgers).

Balotelli's current boss - Siniša Mihajlović - enjoyed a successful areer at the highest level, as did Roberto Mancini, who arguably got more out of Balotelli than anyone, so perhaps this will herald a return to form over the coming season...?

Author: Jaimie K



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