Is It Time for Manchester City to End the Mario Balotelli Saga?

Ieuan BeynonCorrespondent IIIJanuary 21, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13:  Mario Balotelli of Manchester City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on January 13, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The January transfer window is in full swing, and the daily rumour mill seems to be churning out story after story about Manchester City’s Italian striker Mario Balotelli.

Reports suggest that the player could be set for a move back to Italy, with AC Milan interested in acquiring his signature.

Balotelli was an unused substitute during City’s 2-0 home victory over Fulham on the weekend, as Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko seem to be in front of the striker at the Etihad Stadium.

His time with the Premier League champions has been anything but straightforward, with countless misdemeanours both on and off the pitch.

This season he has struggled for form, scoring only one goal in only seven league appearances. He has never really been able to nail down a place in the starting XI, and it now seems that Roberto Mancini has lost faith in his compatriot.

So, has the time come for this crazy soap opera to finally end?

Probably. It would seem that a fresh start would suit both player and club at this time.

Balotelli was coming off the back of an excellent Euro 2012—where he completely dominated one of the best centre-backs in European football in Mats Hummels—while leading Italy to the final.

It was thought that he had finally come of age and that this would be his big season in both the Premiership and the Champions League. Sadly, it was not to be.

A return to Italy and a return to regular first-team action may be just what this maverick needs. He could be playing for the club that he supports and loves. Who knows, this may inspire Balotelli to reach the potential he undoubtedly has.

With the talks set to take place on Monday between City and Milan, it could be a question of watching this space.

City have said that they would like around £31 million for the striker, but the figure could be closer to the £24 million that Mancini paid Inter for him back in 2010.

City would do well to get back what they paid for him and cut their losses. With Balotelli, every little scenario is front- and back-page news and puts the club under the microscope even further.

It is already difficult enough for the team to cope with the pressure that the money of Sheik Mansour brings without them being scrutinised even further by what can only be described as biased quarters of the press.

The team has three world-class strikers already on their books and a youngster in John Guidetti who should be playing Premier League football already, so they could deal with the blow of losing Balotelli.

So it could be a case of "thanks for the memories, Mario." Some have been mad, some have been downright idiotic and some have been utterly breathtaking.