Mario Balotelli Is Italy's Natural Heir to Roberto Baggio

Matteo BonettiContributor IOctober 7, 2013

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 01:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Ajax Amsterdam and AC Milan at Amsterdam Arena on October 1, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The more you observe the two Italian superstars, the more you start to see all of their uncanny resemblances.

Mario Balotelli is the natural heir to Roberto Baggio both domestically and on the Italian national team.

The nomadic Baggio played for seven Serie A teams throughout a career that spanned nearly two decades. On the national team, Robbie netted 27 goals in 56 appearances, playing in some of Italy's most important matches.

Baggio is considered one of Italy's best ever players
Baggio is considered one of Italy's best ever playersGrazia Neri/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the everlasting memory that most of the younger generation will remember of Baggio was his infamous penalty miss in the 1994 World Cup final against Brazil. This hardly paints the picture of one of the Azzurri's finest talents.

Both of these players couldn't be any more different physically, as the athletic Balotelli is much taller, much stronger and more of an imposing presence compare to the diminutive Baggio.

However, similarities could be drawn from their play style. Perhaps the most underrated part of Super Mario's game is his creative ability, where he's able to turn in a split second and find streaking wingers or strikers surging into the penalty box.

This genius instinct coupled with an exceptional finishing ability make Balotelli one of the most complete talents emerging in the peninsula. His main problem so far in his early career has been a penchant to commit mental errors on and off the pitch. Petulance is fixable. Class, on the other hand, isn't.

Another similarity between the two are their nomadic careers. Baggio is in the elite club of players who have plied their trade for Juventus, Milan and Inter. Perhaps the most upsetting move of Robbie's time as a professional was his shock move from Fiorentina to bitter rivals Juventus.

Considering the history between the two sides, the transfer was not handled well by Viola fans. Despite never truly sticking to one team, Roberto Baggio is adored by Italians and seen as one of their greatest ever.

Balotelli, on the other hand, has already played in the top flight for three successful teams. He started his Serie A career at Inter after playing for lower division Lumezzane. Unfortunately, the marriage with Mourinho was a finite one, and the mercurial star made the big-money move to newly rich Manchester City.

At only 23 years old, Balotelli is already at his third big club and will hopefully be a part of Milan's plans in the long run.

One must wonder if Baggio's legacy would have been different had he stuck with one team like Francesco Totti has with Roma. Balotelli will undoubtedly be pestered by similar decisions in the coming years, as big-money offers from some of Europe's most lavish spenders will arrive on the doorstep of Milan's headquarters.