How Much Better Can Mario Balotelli Get at AC Milan?

Matteo BonettiContributor ISeptember 9, 2013

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan looks on during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Cagliari Calcio at San Siro Stadium on September 1, 2013 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

After being purchased from Manchester City in the January transfer window, Mario Balotelli repaid AC Milan by scoring 12 goals in 12 domestic appearances.

On top of this, Milan didn't lose a game for six straight months when Super Mario was in the starting lineup.

Balotelli's impact was felt right away in a transfer which gave the mercurial striker another chance to convince a coach that he is deserving of consistent first-team football.

His performances have earned him a sure place in Cesare Prandelli's Italian national team, where he will be leading the front line all the way to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Super Mario's biggest problem through the years has always been himself. Petulance, not maliciousness, has been the main reason why he was kept out of the starting lineup in previous seasons.

However, it seems that Balotelli has really matured since arriving from England, and he hasn't given Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri the same migraines that Roberto Mancini had at Manchester City.

As a matter of fact, Balotelli has restrained himself well considering the amount of punishment he takes during the course of a match. Whether it's a racist chant from the opposing fanbase or a violent tackle from a defender, Balotelli can be sure that he'll face plenty of people trying to rile him up and get inside his head.

His maturity will prove to be the reason why he'll continue improving at Milan. Now that Balotelli is the unquestioned starter, he has repaid the coach with positive performances even when he hasn't scored.

In fact, by far the most underrated part of his game is his creativity in the final third.

Not only can he use his powerful physique to hold up play in possession, but he can create some magical assists and passes to help his teammates in the attacking sector. This is perhaps the most powerful weapon Mario Balotelli has in his repertoire.

Think of him as a version of Zlatan Ibrahimovic—a ferocious finisher who is just as adept at playmaking. In essence, these are the types of qualities that shape a modern striker and give him an overall game that is hard to predict and even more difficult to stop.

Petulance aside, consistency is by far the most important factor which will truly propel Balotelli to superstardom. Even though it seems he's been around for a long time, the young Brescian is still only 23 years old and could give the Rossoneri another decade before he calls it quits.