January Transfer Window: Milan Are Making a Mistake with Balotelli

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2013

COLLECCHIO, ITALY - NOVEMBER 12:  Mario Balotelli during Italy training session on November 12, 2012 in Collecchio, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Mario Balotelli is coming home, and Rossoneri fans are rejoicing. Visions of Super-Mario combining with Stephan El Shaarawy to form Italy's deadliest strike force might look enticing, but AC Milan are making a big mistake here.

BBC are reporting that the deal is pretty much done: Balotelli will join his childhood dream club. Club director Umberto Gandini confirmed that Balotelli will sign a 4.5-year deal.

Update: Goal.com report the deal is official.

The same club that couldn't afford to bring in Kaka on loan from Real Madrid.

Milan might be one of the most storied clubs in all of world football, but that isn't reflected in their current spending power. Like many teams in Italy, Milan have serious financial issues. Just last year, the team had to sell their two most prized assets (Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva) because the cost of keeping them in Milan was too great.

Consequently, the on-pitch results have suffered. Milan are fifth in the Serie A table and haven't looked nearly as dominant as we've come to expect.

While there are a number of talented youngsters on the roster, several positions are in serious need of an upgrade. Christian Abbiati is 35 and quite frankly, not good enough to be the team's first choice goalkeeper. The centre of the defense resembles a turnstile, and while Mattia De Sciglio has the look of a future star on the right wing, there is no designated starter on the left.

In midfield, Riccardo Montolivo has been successful as a facilitator but Kevin-Prince Boateng has regressed tremendously, and the team lacks a creative spark. El Shaarawy has been phenomenal out on the left wing, but again, there is no one worthy of taking on the same responsibilities on the other side of the pitch.

M'Baye Niang, Giampalo Pazzini and Bojan Krkic have done a nice job up front, and combined with the Herculean efforts of El Shaarawy, the attack is easily Milan's strongest department.

With this many holes on your roster, why spend over 20 million Euro on yet another attacker?

Balotelli might be a world-class talent, he's also a world-class headache. While the best-case scenario might be very tantalizing, chances are this move will not be a slam dunk.

For a striker, he has a poor goalscoring record. He was given chance after chance by Roberto Mancini and showcased his tendency of putting himself above the team each and every time. He's tremendously disliked around Italy and failed to show up for the Euro's in every game, except the one against Germany in which he was absolutely phenomenal.

That's Balotelli in a nutshell. He can be amazing if he wants to, and most of the time that's not the case.

Milan don't have the luxury of spending this kind of money on such a player. Not when the defense is desperately overmatched against every quality opponent they face.

If the January transfer window showed us anything, it's that Italian teams have finally realised that the golden days of crazy spending are over. Every team invested in quality depth players and have committed to building their roster from the ground up.

Milan would be wise to follow this example. Spend the money where it is needed, and commit to the approach you adopted earlier in the season. That's the smart move.