News from the Peninsula – Balotelli, the boy with the permanent blues

What is going on inside the head of Mario Balotelli? How do the cogs turn? What is he thinking? The more outlandish and absurd his actions become, the more Balotelli reveals himself. What originally appeared to be a precocious but petulant talent is quickly becoming a dangerous creature in its own right – a short fuse with an explosive bang. His behaviour is becoming increasingly volatile and erratic, his methods illogical and his reactions naïve. Balo seems a constantly angst ridden individual, waiting for the slightest reason to snap and outpour his anger.

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This week has furthered tarnished his less than impressive image as Serie A’s enfant terrible. Nobody was surprised when Jose Mourinho opted against selecting the inconsistent youngster against European champions Barcelona, yet Balotelli became angered by the snub. When introduced as a late sub, he retorted to jeers from the crowd after blasting high and wide, and at the final whistle, as the rest of his team-mates were celebrating their famous win in communal fashion, Balo threw his jersey to the ground and made a beeline for the exit.

His actions incensed everyone around the San Siro. Mourinho was caught on camera muttering profanities about him, a scrum of senior players took the opportunity to reprimand him down the tunnel and – as he was leaving the ground – a gathering of fans angled their displeasure his way as well. Super Mario has few confidants left in this part of town.

In fairness to the 19-year-old striker, he has been on the receiving end of some rough treatment, namely the vicious racist abuse he has been subjected to since bursting on to the scene. Nevertheless, he continues to make himself a public enemy. His attitude riles players and fans alike, and that destructive irrational streak homes in on the trouble which follows. Too frequently does this happen.

It does beg the question as to who is looking after Balotelli? The pitfalls for teen superstars are massive, the money and glamour can ruin rather than reward, and too frequently talents become tormented. What are Inter doing to protect their starlet? If Mourinho cannot be expected to babysit him, how is he being nurtured off-field? Sir Alex Ferguson has nursed through a host of teen protégé’s in a fatherly fashion, and similar guidance is needed for Balotelli. Instead, Balotelli’s defence this week came from his agent, Mino Raiola, who apparently requested a transfer in the wake of the Barca match, suggested it should be the fans who apologise to Mario, and that a lawsuit for bullying could be on the cards if Inter’s treatment towards his client continued. Is this really the right type of character to guide such a complex kid?

After his latest outburst, the thin ice Balotelli was jumping up and down on has finally given way, and his future certainly seems to be away from Inter. President Moratti accused Balo of ‘public suicide’ for his actions and said that his situation would be ‘difficult to repair’. Given the animosity between the factions, a move elsewhere will be the best option for all parties, but whilst the Nerazzurri would survive the departure of a skilled but problematic player, how will Balotelli fare? A move away could make or break, the most important thing for the Azzurrini ace is that the location and surroundings are what he requires to fully realise his immense potential. There is a fine line between a genius and a madman. Left to his own devices, Balotelli could easily stray.

The moral of the story here is that – for whatever reasons – there is a teenage footballer that finds himself upset being at one the Continents top football clubs, who are involved in fantastic fixtures like Tuesday nights Champions league semi-final. On Saturday, Balotelli should have been involved in a crucial title game where his side need a win at home to Atalanta in pursuit of another Scudetto. Considering every boy that wants to play football aspires to these occasions, something is wrong.

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There have been strong suggestions this week that Rafael Benitez is in place to take over as Juventus coach in the summer. The Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Benitez’s advisors met Juve officials this week and discussed the Liverpool boss joining la Vecchia Signora. It is believed that personal terms with the Spaniard have been agreed and the completion is now dependent on the stance of the Anfield club’s prospective new owners. The club have confirmed that Giuseppe Marotta will arrive from Sampdoria to become the new Director of Sport. That move is the first of what is expected to be a large-scale reshuffle of the Juve management, following a wretched season.

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