So Mario Balotelli's Manchester adventure has finally come to an end.
While his time was lively, both fans and pundits will have mixed feelings about seeing him leave the Eithad Stadium and head off to AC Milan.
Some people say Balotelli and his colorful off-the-field antics were good for the game, while others will say that he was an expensive distraction who spent more time on the sidelines than scoring goals—which after all, is what he was paid for.
Balotelli is a frustrating figure. Blessed with inordinate talent, he has the potential to be one of the top strikers in the game. But he is also cursed with a lack of maturity, which gets him into numerous scrapes.
After reading more about his background, being raised by an adoptive family in Italy and having to endure racial abuse while playing youth soccer, I have a lot of sympathy for Balotelli. But the thing is that Super Mario is now a young man, the key word being man.
People cannot keep making excuses for his childish behavior, especially in a career where young men are expected to grow up quickly.
Balotelli would do well to look at players like Cesc Fabregas, who captained the Arsenal side at a young age, and Lionel Messi to see how they have handled maturity. The high-stakes soccer world doesn't have time for petulant brats, especially if they are not delivering.
The only reason why the soccer world tolerates Ronaldo's antics is because his talent is so overwhelming. If Balotelli had been racking up 30 goals a season, most people would have overlooked his histrionics.
However, Balotelli does have time on his side. He is still fairly young, and one can only hope that when maturity finally kicks in, he will start to focus more on scoring goals than indulging in off-the-field antics.
Only time will tell if AC Milan can get the best out of the mercurial striker. Maybe, he will respond to being in a home environment, with friends and family close by.
But either way, this is definitely not the last we have seen of "Super Mario" Balotelli.
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