Cassano and Balotelli’s same difference

Mario Balotelli’s latest argument with his Coach Roberto Mancini following his showboating against LA Galaxy suggests that he is still the immature, arrogant young striker Italian football fans remember at Inter two seasons ago. The 20-year-old is still creating havoc and arguing with the authoritative figures at Manchester City, much like he did at the Nerazzurri.
It is not just Balotelli’s on-field antics which make him such an incredibly frustrating figure – he has made more headlines off the field than he has on it. At Inter he constantly disrupted training sessions which lead to more than a few arguments with José Mourinho and he was infamous for going clubbing the night before matches. At City, he (again) disrupted training sessions and was reportedly throwing darts at youth players because he was ‘bored’.
Looking over his rap-sheet, one cannot help but compare him to a young Antonio Cassano. Although there are no reports which suggest Cassano ever threw darts at teammates, there is a striking resemblance between the two. Cassano made a name for himself when he signed for Roma for about €30m at the age of 19. He was a fantastic talent and had the potential to be one of the best players in the world. Alas, the money and fame got the better of the youngster as he wasted his talent becoming such a controversial character, arguing with the then Coach Fabio Capello and later his successor Luigi Del Neri.
Roma passed their troubled wonderkid off to Real Madrid where he scored a goal three minutes into his first appearance before being dropped for disrespecting Capello again, who had since joined Los Blancos as Coach. Due to the disruption he caused at Roma and Real Madrid, Cassano was left out of the Italian national side several times.
The former Bari player looked to have matured a lot at Sampdoria and became a very respectable player for the Blucerchiati until he fell out with the club’s President Riccardo Garrone, which led to his contract being rescinded by the club. After signing for Milan and winning the Scudetto with the Rossoneri and returning to the Italian national team, Cassano has finally returned to playing at the highest level but it is too little too late for the No 99. He clearly has not fulfilled his potential. As a youngster he looked destined for greatness, he looked capable of becoming one of the worlds greatest but his success has been hindered by his attitude and problems with his seniors. Cassano is playing well at Milan but his talent has been wasted and now he is merely a shadow of the player he should be.
Looking back at Cassano’s time at Roma, Real Madrid and Sampdoria, he and Balotelli are almost identical. Balotelli can look at Cassano’s career and realise that his talent could very easily go to waste if he does not listen to the very people who are trying to protect him and help him develop as a player. He must realise that Mancini is the ally, not the enemy. An intelligent person learns from other people’s mistakes and this is exactly what Mario needs to do. He can learn from someone like Cassano, who has lived the life and made the mistakes that he is on course to make. If Balotelli drops his bad attitude and his issues with authority he can develop properly and fulfil his potential, otherwise he risks throwing the great talent and ability he possesses away.

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