The Top 5 Contenders for Mario Balotelli's Signature
As one of the least predictable players in football, it is fitting that Mario Balotelli's future is unclear.
However, it is clear that all is not well with the precocious striker in Manchester. Super Mario has started only five league matches this season and has yet to score in any of them. The fourth-choice striker was dropped from the squad to face Tottenham last weekend, a fact that the 22-year-old reportedly commiserated by partying in Cheshire until the early hours of Sunday morning (per The Sun).
Roberto Mancini's notoriously thin patience seems to have finally run out with the Eastlands court jester.
With this in mind, here are five clubs who may be willing to continue the Balotelli legacy.
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After three prolific (yet grief-stricken) years at Internazionale, the Italians sold Balotelli to Manchester City for €22 million in August 2010.
Newspapers such as The Mirror and The Daily Mail report that Inter owner Massimo Moratti is keen to bring Mario back into the fold, where he will be closer to the hometown of the mother of his future child, Raffaella Fico.
While Balotelli may feel more settled in Milan––where he is currently having a house built––Inter would effectively be doubling the crazy striker quota already fulfilled by Antonio Cassano. Can one dressing room take that much lunacy?
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Since the Rossoneri sold Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG, Milanistas have been staying away from the San Siro in their droves and the once-great club have slipped into the bottom half of Serie A.
The Mirror recently reported that Milan are keen to acquire the services of Super Mario and will entertain a player-plus-cash deal for joint Serie A top scorer Stephan El Shaarawy.
Since chief executive Adriano Galliani is an admirer of the volatile striker and undoubtedly keen to hold onto El Shaarawy, the Daily News & Analysis suggest injury-prone Brazilian Alexandre Pato will be offloaded to help the cash-strapped Italians execute the deal (h/t DNAIndia.com).
Balotelli was a boyhood fan of the seven-time European Cup winners and caused quite a stir when he wore an AC Milan strip while playing for Internazionale.
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Where there is a world-class striker, there is a Paris Saint-Germain transfer rumour.
The petrodollar-fuelled Parisiennes had a £40 million bid rejected over the summer, but it is extremely unlikely that the Citizens would reject such an inflated offer for a striker so low in the pecking order should it be made again in January.
While Balotelli would undoubtedly take Ligue 1––and the nightspots of Paris–– by storm, the move would almost certainly upset PSG's current alpha male, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Mario's former teammate recently labelled Balotelli as "a mediocre player."
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News outlets such as The Daily Mail are reporting that City are ready to jettison Mario Balotelli to make room for Colombian sensation Radamel Falcao.
The Atletico Madrid forward is expected to cost at least £46 million, so logic dictates that the Manchester club would consider funding part of the cost with their trouble-making Italian.
Atletico Madrid, however, has not publicly expressed an interest in Balotelli, and the likes of Goal.com believe Falcao may be tempted to South West London by Roman Abramovich's millions instead.
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The Telegraph have today re-iterated Roberto Mancini's desire to bring Roma captain Daniele De Rossi to Manchester in the winter transfer window. A move for the 29-year-old, however, is said to be contingent on Balotelli's exit.
While the Giallorossi have plenty of firepower from the likes of Erik Lamela and Francesco Totti, it's possible they will accept Balotelli as part of a deal for the midfielder who has spent his entire career in Rome.