Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mario Balotelli joins AC Milan, continues to confuse

Many teams have improved themselves this transfer window.  There have been short-term additions like Sporting KC forward Kei Kamara’s six-month audition with Norwich City, bargains, as well as deals with a view to a long term future (see Zaha, Wilfried and Shea, Brek). 

There has even been the odd case of addition by subtraction.

The most prominent deal of this type involves Mario Balotelli.  His two-plus years playing for Manchester City had exhausted his employers and yesterday he was sent to the red side of Milan for a fee approximating £17 million.

That such a talent as Balotelli was released by City without argument is a sign of the disdain in which he is held at the Etihad campus.  The negatives finally outweighed the positives, with the final straw perhaps coming four weeks ago as the temperamental forward became involved in a physical altercation with coach – and his most prominent backer – Roberto Mancini.

While the deal may help the City dressing room coalesce and focus on overhauling crosstown rivals Manchester United, it also rids the club of their most gifted player.  With Balotelli, there are no absolutes – he every statement about him must be accompanied by a “but”, an “if” or a “when”.

Mario Balotelli is a player with a presence so large that you can’t judge anything he does from only one angle.  He is a colourful, 3D character in a world that paint its characters like Steamboat Willy.  This might be his greatest hurdle in keeping popular sentiment positive: football media often portrays its subjects in unforgiving black and white.

He is the most talented Italian striker to emerge since Antonio Cassano (at least) and also a man who exemplifies persistent problems with authority.  He’s a genius, and a madman.  A word or a sentence isn’t enough to articulate the truth of Mario Balotelli.

A three-dimensional outlook is also the only way to evaluate his transfer to the Fashion City.  He will win games for the Rossoneri, but also frustrate.  It’s a win for Manchester City, but also a loss – talents like Mario emerge twice a decade.  How very Balotelli.

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