With Manchester City gearing up for their defence of the Premier League title, the most talked about aspect of their squad has been the strikers. Towards the end of last season it seemed an inevitability that both Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli would be leaving the club after they both had turbulent seasons to say the least.
However reports last month suggested that Mario will look to turn a new leaf in a bid to stay with the champions. Likewise Carlos Tevez has put forward similar sentiments suggesting he will stay. After the negative headlines that have followed both men last year is this a good idea?
With Tevez spending much of the year AWOL after apparently refusing to come on as a substitute in a Champions League tie against Bayern Munich and Balotelli never far from controversy on or off the pitch, which of the two should have a bigger part to play in the future of the club?
The most important consideration has to be the contribution the two give the team on the pitch. While Balotelli shows flashes of rare brilliance and is a reliable goalscorer, Tevez is the player who gives more to the team.
Balotelli's scoring record in sky blue is very impressive, the 21-year-old has netted 27 times in 60 games for the club. However the Italian adds little else to the team. In those 60 games, Balotelli has only contributed two assists. Compare these stats to Tevez, who in 98 games has not only scored 56 goals, but also added 19 assists.
Looking at the club going forward, the top dog among the strikers should be Sergio Aguero. Last year Aguero showed the others how it should be done, scoring 23 league goals with eight assists and no off the field incidents.
If Balotelli and Tevez will have to play with Aguero then Tevez is again the natural choice. As the season drew to a close and Tevez returned to the team he already looked to have built up a rapport with his fellow countryman. The two combined especially well in City's domination of Norwich, where Tevez netted a hat trick before setting up a goal for Aguero.
Meanwhile Balotelli is less of a threat playing behind another striker. The Italian is better served playing off the shoulder of the defender, where is pace and power have the capabilities to cause even the best centre-back's problems.
The gulf in the work rate that the two provide is enormous. Tevez is willing to drop back into midfield in an attempt to link up play get the ball forwards. If Balotelli isn't in the mood then he will often remove himself from play, standing lonely up the pitch waiting for the ball to be given to him.
When you are playing at the level that Manchester are now, you can't afford to be carrying even one player. Balotelli has the look of a player who wants to be the unchallenged star of a team, akin to the role Francesco Totti plays at Roma. If this is the case then it may be best for all parties for Mario to move on to another team.
In terms of the future, the one thing firmly in Balotelli's favour is his age, at only 21 years of age, he has the potential to play at the highest level for another 10 years, becoming a club legend in the process. However if he cannot get the petulant side of his game under control, which team will want him around for that long?
At 28 years old, Tevez should be reaching the peak of his performance now and to make the most of it he should try and be settled at one particular club. If he can be happy at City he needs to get his head down and continue the form that he showed at the end of the season.
With the funds that City have available to them, no member of the team is irreplaceable. The pressure is on for trophies every season and Roberto Mancini needs players who are going to deliver for him now. At the moment, Tevez looks far more likely to do that than Balotelli does.
The Italian's insolence last season not only disrupted his own performances but also that of the team. Reported training ground bust-ups coupled with performances such as that against Arsenal should not be tolerated by a team with the ambitions of City, however good the player is.
Mancini should learn a lesson from rival manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who has never shied away from cutting free any limbs he considers to be gangrenous, regardless of the talent they may have had.
Tevez may have caused more of a furore after the scandal that followed the game against Bayern Munich, however having Tevez sulking by himself back home in Argentina affected the team far less than Balotelli did. He started his redemption at the end of the season and currently he looks by far the more likely of the two to be less disruptive.
Yet after the trouble both of them have caused the team over the last year, the best option may be to replace both of them and save the club any further problems down the road.
City fans, would you prefer to have Balotelli, Tevez or both at the club? Or do you think the should both be shown the door? Leave your comments below;
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