Manchester City: Is John Guidetti a Viable Replacement for Mario Balotelli?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentDecember 28, 2012

Manchester City: Is John Guidetti a Viable Replacement for Mario Balotelli?

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    Is Manchester City's 20-year-old Swedish international John Guidetti a viable replacement for troubled-star Mario Balotelli?

    This article will look back at Guidetti's magical loan spell with Feyenoord, his career-threatening illness and what City should do with him this season. 

    The article will also document Balotelli's distractions, his deteriorating form and whether or not he has a future with the Sky Blues. 

John Guidetti's 2011-12 Loan Spell with Feyenoord

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    It's September 11, 2011 at the Rat Verlegh Stadion, with hosts Breda 2-1 down to Feyenoord.

    As Guyon Fernandez trudges off the field to be replaced by Manchester City loanee John Guidetti, the versatile Fernandez has no idea that his extended run as a No. 9 is about to end. 

    Guidetti gets in behind Breda's tired defence twice—once via a Kelvin Leerdam through-ball and then a lofted pass from Karim El Ahmadi. 

    The turning point of the game is actually a seemingly innocuous substitution from Breda manager John Karelse, who brings on Ajax loanee Roly Bonevacia. 

    A few minutes later, Bonevacia grabs the arm of Leerdam in the box, giving Feyenoord a penalty. 

    Guidetti glances to his left, breathes in and then coolly slots the spot-kick to the right corner, giving Jelle ten Rouwelaar no chance. 

    That is how it began for Guidetti, who went on to score 20 goals and registered eight assists in 23 league games. 

    This may seem surprising but it's true. Feyenoord don't miss him at all because unheralded Graziano Pellè scores prolifically, is a threat in the air and holds up the ball. 

    How about that late-equalising goal against Ajax? He controlled the ball with his thigh, spun and volleyed it past Kenneth Vermeer. Guidetti was actually in De Kuip to witness Pellè's beautiful goal. 

    The reason why Pellè is relevant to this discussion is that he failed in Serie A but has flourished in the Eredivisie.  

    Afonso Alves, Bryan Ruiz, Marcus Berg, Mateja Kežman and many more have scored goals easily in the Dutch league like Guidetti, but failed to find similar success when they played in better leagues. 

    Guidetti's upside is very high but just because he scored goals for Feyenoord doesn't automatically mean he's a can't-miss prospect in one of Europe's elite leagues. 

John Guidetti's Career-Threatening Illness

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    When In Bed With Maradona followed up on their Top 100 young players, European correspondent Andy Brassell offered this take on John Guidetti:

    A few months down the line from 2011/12, we can really start to absorb what John Guidetti achieved on loan at Feyenoord, despite only turning 20 a few weeks before the season's end. It wasn't just the 20 goals in 23 matches but the way he led the team—technically and ideologically—out of the doldrums to finishing Eredivisie runners-up. A debilitating illness took the wind out of his sails, but the identity of Zlatan's successor for Sweden is no longer a secret.

    The debilitating illness Brassell is referring to was when Guidetti contracted food poisoning which led to a virus attacking his nervous system. His legs were emaciated and all those years of running and doing leg work was gone in a heartbeat. 

    John poignantly spoke of the situation (via Simon Mullock at Mirror Football): "One minute I was in heaven, the next in hell. I could not believe it."

    Guidetti is back training, but it remains to be seen if this freak incident has debilitated his career. 

Mario Balotelli's Distractions

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    Mario Balotelli's mind has always wandered, but with all the drama in his life, it's no wonder he has been so disappointing for Manchester City this season. 

    He took the club to a league tribunal disputing that his fines were unfair, a decision he later backed down on.

    There's an on-going domestic problem with his former girlfriend Raffaella Fico, who has accused Mario of not taking care of their baby girl

    His brother, Enoch—who had a trial with Stoke City—was reportedly arrested for assaulting two police officers in Italy. 

    Brian Marwood, an executive at City, slated Balotelli for not being a role model. 

    League Only Games/Goals Shots Per Goal Shot Accuracy %
    Andy Carroll 10/1 23 32
    Danny Graham 13/1 21 60
    Hugo Rodallega 17/2 19 64
    Mario Balotelli 13/1 34 24
    Papiss Cissé 17/3 11 32

    Not so super, eh? Where's the Balotelli that shredded Germany at Euro 2012? Mario is the worst of the worst in terms of scoring goals this Premier League season. 

    If he doesn't make considerable improvements, he has no future with the Sky Blues. 

Replace Mario Balotelli with John Guidetti?

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    Manchester City have two options in dealing with John Guidetti and Mario Balotelli. 

    1. Loan Balotelli to AC Milan with the option to buy and give Guidetti the minutes Mario would have. 

    Positives: no more Balo-dramedy. Milan are saying bye-bye to Alexandre Pato and Robinho, so Balotelli would be an attractive option for the Rossoneri. 

    John is given an opportunity with City that he has been waiting for since he was a 16-year-old. 

    Negatives: Mario will more than likely fall in love with Milan, giving the club the leverage to short-change City. Balotelli isn't given one final chance to prove his worth to City. These types of decisions should be made in the summer transfer window, not the January transfer window. 

    2. Loan Guidetti to a Premier League club and leave Balotelli at City. 

    Positives: City management may be foolish enough to loan John to another non-Premier League team. He's already played in the Eredivisie and now it's only logical to see how he goes in the Premier League. It will be futile to loan him to a Serie A or La Liga club. 

    Balotelli might come good in the latter half of the season. 

    Negatives: Guidetti starts scoring goals for fun in the EPL whilst City's forwards continue to struggle.

    Player Goals in Last 5 League Games
    Carlos Tévez 1 in 5
    Edin Džeko 0 in 5
    Mario Balotelli 1 in 5
    Sergio Agüero 1 in 5

    It would be similar to Daniel Sturridge scoring eight in 12 games for Bolton Wanderers whilst Fernando Torres went on that infamous barren run during the 2010-11 season.

    Chelsea management looked like such buffoons when it happened. 

    Possible Premier League Destinations for Guidetti

    Aston Villa: A better option than Brett Holman or Gabriel Agbonlahor as the deep-lying forward behind Christian Benteke. Of course, this is presuming Paul Lambert persists with the 3-5-2 after leaking eight goals against Chelsea. 

    Sunderland: Unlikely to beat out Stéphane Sessegnon for the second striker role. Certainly won't win the centre-forward position from £12 million-valued Steven Fletcher.

    Swansea City: Luke Moore isn't anything special. Danny Graham has been awful so far. The Swans' possession-based football suits Guidetti, though he may have issues playing with Michu. The Spaniard operates behind the centre-forward where he excepts his No. 9 to act as a diversion, but Michu generally always looks to shoot rather than pass. 

    Wigan Athletic: Would have been the best option, except Manchester United were smart enough to identify Franco Di Santo as Wigan's weak link, and sent highly-touted teenage forward Ángelo Henríquez to the Latics.

    If you're a Fantasy Premier League player, monitor the situation closely. Henríquez could be the unique player that separates you from your opponents. 

    Comment below with your thoughts. 

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