The 22-year-old Italian is a lightning rod for controversy, with his work ethic and temperament often overshadowing his on-field ability.
His penchant for starting fights—even with members of his own club—has caused his relationship with The Sky Blues to dissipate over the past year. Balotelli's well-documented battle with manager Roberto Mancini has apparently reached the breaking point, but at what cost?
According to Andy Martin of The Observer, Man City's asking price for Balotelli is €37 million, or roughly $49 million. That's an awful lot of cash for a player who got into a shoving match with his own manager at practice earlier this month.
His continued disciplinary problems in the 2012-2013 season come on the heels of a season in which he missed 11 games due to suspension and was levied a two-week fine.
Still want to buck up almost $50 million, AC Milan?
Sure, Balotelli's physical talents are undeniable.
At 6'2", he has the height and length to complement incredible agility, quickness and power. However, those skills haven't translated to the field this season.
In fact, they've entirely disappeared.
In 14 Premier League games, Balotelli has managed a single goal on 34 shots.
Essentially, he has landed more shots on his own coach than he has on any opponent this season.
Balotelli's on-field drop-off is incredibly disappointing for a player with so many natural gifts.
Since joining Man City in 2010, he displayed tremendous upside and a knack for finding the back of the net. In 75 appearances for the club, Balotelli has scored 30 goals after netting 28 in 86 appearances for Internazionale of Serie A.
That ability has probably kept him on a longer leash, but he has worn out his welcome in Man City.
For a club like AC Milan, which is also in talks with Real Madrid for Kaka, the Balotelli headache simply isn't worth it. Making such a formative investment in a player who has proven to be a poor teammate and uncoachable wouldn't be wise for a club already tight on cash.
Instead of dropping nearly $50 million on a player who was urged to seek professional help over his disciplinary issues last April, why not go after Kaka?
Although he too has taken a step back on the field—failing to reach double-digit goals with Real Madrid the past two seasons—the former Milan star doesn't bring Balotelli's baggage and is still held in high regard by club president Silvio Berlusconi.
In a Reuters report, Berlusconi said of Kaka, "I'm optimistic, he's a great player and a great man and he is still in our hearts."
Now that sounds like a guy to put your money on.
Balotelli might have youth and upside on his side, but Milan should steer clear of the line for his services.