Why Mario Balotelli Is the Luxury Player AC Milan Do Not Need

Matteo BonettiContributor IAugust 8, 2014

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 27:  Mario Balotelli #45 of AC Milan signals to teammates against Manchester City during International Champions Cup 2014 at Heinz Field on July 27, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Over the past few years, Mario Balotelli has been one of the most polarizing athletes on the planet. His antics on and off the pitch are always fervently picked apart by media outlets desperate for any sort of gossip revolving around the young Italian.

Capable of incredible genius and head-scratching frustration, the striker affectionately known as "Super Mario" hasn't exactly convinced everybody in the Milan camp.

His 2014 World Cup with Italy was poor.

Despite scoring a header in the first match against England, he was largely anonymous in his other two stints, failing to come up big when it mattered most and not showing the required urgency in tracking back that is needed at an event as prestigious as the World Cup.

Balotelli frustrated at the World Cup with Italy
Balotelli frustrated at the World Cup with ItalyClive Rose/Getty Images

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi wasn't shy about admitting that his star striker nearly made a move to England before the World Cup this past summer.

Berlusconi went as far as saying that he was going to receive many millions for Balotelli but then questioned who would want to buy him after his poor performance in Brazil.

From a statistical standpoint, Balotelli did not disappoint in the goals department. In the past season-and-a-half, he has scored 26 goals in 43 matches, a decent return for a No. 9 in Serie A.

Balotelli in action for Milan during a summer friendly vs. Manchester City
Balotelli in action for Milan during a summer friendly vs. Manchester CityJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

However, take a closer look and the plot changes. Apart from picking up needless suspensions and missing crucial domestic and European matches, Balotelli was nowhere to be seen in Milan's most important moments last season.

If champions are measured on the biggest stage, Balotelli has thoroughly disappointed. Atletico Madrid managed to completely shut out Balotelli in the Champions League. It wasn't even so much his lack of goals in those games but his lack of effort that was enough to infuriate some fans.

Assuming that Milan could have gotten a price in the range of €25-30 million for the services of Balotelli, it would have been a shrewd move to pick up a few parts more synonymous with what new coach Filippo Inzaghi wants to accomplish.

TeamGoalsAppearancesYellow/Red Cards
2012-14 AC Milan264316/1
2010-12 Manchester City205414/3
2007-10 Inter Milan205817/1

It's hard to imagine Balotelli as a real No. 9 once you start looking at his attributes and style of play. He loves shooting from long range and has the ability to set up teammates with underrated vision.

Apart from that, Balotelli's positioning isn't instinctual, and he isn't a real aerial presence. 

His career goal tally points to this as well. He isn't necessarily a pure goalscorer.

That being said, Balotelli would be better behind a striker and won't be the ideal solution to lead the line assuming he does stick around for another season with the Rossoneri. If the right offer comes in, Milan should weigh their options once again considering the statements from Silvio Berlusconi.