5 Potential Transfer Options for Mario Balotelli
AC Milan's Mario Balotelli is never far from the headlines. Last month his agent, Mino Raiola, stirred up controversy by admitting that the Italy striker could want a move away from the San Siro, and the transfer speculation has continued since.
Raiola is known for pushing his players to move, of course. The agent's earned a fortune on the back of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's many transfers and would no doubt like to pocket his fee on a big-money move for Mario, too. That, coupled with the fact that Milan have had an abysmal start to the season, has fuelled talk of Balo leaving the club he supported as a boy.
It still seems like a long shot, given the fact he's been there less than a year and looks perfectly happy. But for the sake of argument, let's look at Balo's best options.
Raiola knows how deep the pockets are at Paris Saint-Germain, so if Balotelli was seriously interested in a move then the French club would be top of his agent's contact list.
There's a strong Italian flavour to the mega-rich Parisians, who have a squad full of ex-Serie A stars. And while competing with Ibra and Edinson Cavani for a place up front might not seem like the ideal situation, there is talk that the Uruguayan is unhappy and thinking of a move himself, per the Express.
If the former Napoli hitman leaves, then Mario would be a great replacement for Laurent Blanc.
Jose Mourinho told CNN that he could write a book about his time coaching Mario Balotelli (h/t Football Italia). However, he said it wouldn't be a drama; it would be a comedy.
There was a lot made of his often heated relationship with the young striker while the two were at Inter, but apparently the Portuguese coach and his former protege have stayed in touch, and it was Chelsea that Raiola was touting as a destination recently.
Speaking to Italian radio (h/t the Metro), the agent said:
Balotelli and Jose Mourinho could be reunited because they know each other and they didn’t leave each other with hate. There was a not very nice incident between them, but they parted company on good terms.
They have remained in contact and there is mutual respect. I know Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani will not agree, but Mario is a great striker. That is for certain and he could perhaps be that at Chelsea.
He's already proven he can cut it in the Premier League, and Balotelli might fancy a return to English shores where the media scrutiny of his personal life is less intense than here in Italy.
According to Italy's Corriere dello Sport (h/t Yahoo! Sport), Carlo Ancelotti is a fan of Balotelli. The Italian paper claims that Real Madrid had an offer rejected last summer but that they might be persuaded to move again if they think the forward is unhappy with life at the San Siro.
The thought of an attack containing Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Super Mario should have defences everywhere shivering.
Mario's a different kind of player than the former Everton forward, but he'd be more than able to compensate for Rooney's goals should he leave United, and Balotelli and Robin van Persie would make for one of the continent's most fearsome strike partnerships.
It would also give the Red Devils a chance to put up some "Welcome to Manchester" posters of their own ...
It's the club he supports. The fans love him and his manager's been very supportive. AC Milan remains the best option for Mario Balotelli.
At 23, he'll have plenty of time for a move down the line, but for now there's still plenty to prove in Italy. His start at the Rossoneri has been for the most part impressive, but doubts still linger about the striker's maturity and his ability to properly develop the enormous potential at his disposal. The San Siro is the best place for Balo to silence the critics.
Former Inter boss Gigi Simoni is the latest to question the player, telling Italian radio (h/t Football Italia):
I would never want Mario Balotelli in my squad because he’s unreliable.
Balotelli is a player of great quality, that is beyond doubt. However, I consider him unreliable, which is why I would never want him in my squad. I prefer to have players who might be less talented, but are capable of giving me guarantees on their behaviour.
I cannot stand the fact he is always ready to react, protest or provoke.
It's a familiar criticism for Mario, especially here in Italy. If he wants to shake the bad-boy image and prove that he's genuinely one of the world's best, then there's no better place to start than at home. Leave now, and the questions will remain.