Manchester City Transfer News: Selling Mario Balotelli Is the Right Move to Make
The Italian international had been linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium for some time, but news of Balotelli's departure was only officially confirmed by both clubs on Tuesday, with a fee of around £20 million expected to be paid for the 22-year-old (per BBC Sport):
AC Milan have agreed a deal to sign Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli on a four-and-a-half-year contract, the Italian club have confirmed.
City manager Roberto Mancini said on Tuesday that Balotelli could complete his move after a medical on Wednesday.
"Both clubs are talking about him. Maybe tomorrow [Wednesday] they can close [the deal]. We love Mario, but he had this big chance to go back to Italy. Milan started to talk to Manchester City in the last two days and they are very close".
Manchester City's decision to sell Balotelli isn't one that would have come lightly to the club, but it is the correct decision for them to have made.
The Italian international hasn't delivered on or off the pitch this season, and needs to be let go by the club—despite Mancini promising the enigmatic striker "100 more chances" at the club following their recent training ground altercation.
Firstly, the absence of Balotelli at City will be a significant boost for the club in terms of the negative media attention that it brings upon itself.
Super Mario has had his fair share—and most people's fair share—of controversies since making the move to Manchester back in 2010.
And whilst what happens off the pitch is his own personal business to an extent, when it starts becoming a permanent thing at the club and one that they cannot escape due to reoccurring actions by the Italian, then it becomes an issue.
Balotelli's recent training ground altercation with manager Roberto Mancini is a prime example of this, with the Italian simply refusing to listen to his boss.
As a result, the pair got into a bust-up that went viral in a matter of hours, and negative press was once again beamed onto Manchester City as a club. Further pressure was thrust onto the seven-point gap between City and league leaders Manchester United and the fact that Balotelli was not delivering this season.
The Guardian commented on that day recently, saying:
[The incident] was so reckless that it convinced Mancini he was fighting a lost cause and that the colleagues who had advised him to give up on Balotelli were correct.
He still had strong reservations about letting Balotelli go without having a replacement lined up, preferring an end-of-season deal rather than leaving City with only three established strikers.
Privately, however, he had accepted a club with City's ambitions could no longer afford to carry someone so unpredictable.
And in terms of his off-field incidents, they're completely correct. City's title ambitions and need to stay disciplined and focused in running down Manchester United mean that they can ill afford the slip-ups Balotelli seemed to provide every week.
He wasn't worth carrying for another season and deserved to be let go. Especially, when his on-field production was less than adequate from a striker, and that, too, definitely has to be considered as a deciding factor in his departure from Manchester City.
Despite only having Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko as the recognized strikers at the club now, Balotelli's presence will not be missed.
His workrate and success dwindles compared to that trio, and his inability to get it going on the field must have factored in to his transfer.
Statistics from WhoScored.com provides a great comparison of the quartet, and it's clear how much less Balotelli was doing than the other three.
Key: SPG (shots per game), KP (key passes), Pass (passes per game), Pass % (pass completion percentage), Fouls (fouls per game)
His production on the field was nowhere near the standards and expectations that Mancini needed from him, and given his troubles off the field as well, Balotelli simply was not worth lugging around as excessive baggage anymore.
Timing-wise, for Milan to be offering around £20 million depending on performance for the striker, it's an absolute no-brainer therefore to sell.
Should his off-field troubles continue and his on-field performances sputter, City might not have been able to get £20 million for him in the summer.
The offer was there now, and it needed to therefore be taken.
A handful of solid performances at the 2012 European Championships do not warrant rejecting £20 million for the player six months later when all he's done since then is cause trouble and certainly not replicate his international form.
Especially not when Napoli striker Edinson Cavani—a long-term target of the club—is absolutely tearing up the Serie A competition currently.
Yahoo! Sports report that Napoli won't be willing to sell Cavani unless someone meets the striker's buyout clause in his contract (around £50 million).
And whilst the sale of Balotelli doesn't mean that City will immediately splash out on the striker, it certainly does make it a more plausible option, now that they have £20 million extra in their pockets.
So on all of those counts, it's hard to argue against the move from Manchester City to sell Mario Balotelli to AC Milan over the winter transfer window.
Did City make the right move in selling Balotelli?
He isn't performing well on or off the field this season, and given all the club has dealt with in the last two years, he isn't worth carrying anymore.
Milan came around at the right time with a big offer that they might not be able to find in six months, and their squad is strong enough to cover his absence. And if not, Mancini now has the money on hand to go and find the club a new striker.
All of those combined make this a great transfer move from Manchester City—one that should have happened and needed to happen this January.
Now they can get back to work on closing that gap in the title race to Manchester United and defending their English Premier League crown.
Should Manchester City look to sign a new striker this transfer window?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
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