Unwanted at Liverpool & minimal impact in Milan – what next for Mario Balotelli?

The former Italy international is seemingly a changed man but does he have sufficient time to resurrect his career now that he has been sidelined by injury until the New Year?

When Liverpool made the surprising decision to sign Mario Balotelli in August, 2015, then manager Brendan Rodgers assured concerned supporters that the enigmatic striker knew that he was on his “last chance” to prove himself at a big club.

Almost exactly 12 months later, Adriano Galliani defended AC Milan’s decision to re-sign the 25-year-old on loan by saying: “Mario knows that this is absolutely his last chance.”

Perhaps next August, some other club official at one of Europe’s elite will be saying the exact same thing about a player blessed with an imposing physique and incredible technique. But it seems increasingly unlikely.

Balotelli’s career has reached a crossroads – and he knows it. The player is determined to make the most of his second spell at San Siro in order to relaunch a career that seemed set for superstardom the night he blew Germany away at Euro 2012.

However, can he turn things around? Below, a group of Goal experts discuss whether Super Mario can bounce back or is destined to be remembered as a frustratingly unfulfilled talent…


By Simone Gambino | Goal Italia

It was supposed to be the season for revival, redemption, a fresh start after a year of failure in which he had lost his superstar status. Fate, though, has turned its back on Balotelli, who has been ruled out of action until 2016 with a troublesome groin problem. It’s a blow for Milan, who had taken a major gamble on Balotelli during the summer, but it’s more devastating for the player, who is approaching the halfway point of the most pivotal season of his career. With the European Championships on the horizon, Balotelli still has so much to prove.

His second spell with Milan started on the right foot: impeccably behaved in training; respectfully silent on the bench; and immediately decisive when called up. For Balotelli, there have only been four appearances, 228 minutes played and one goal. But things had been going well. Before the game against Genoa, Balotelli’s final outing before his injury, Milan CEO Adriano Galliani enthused: “He has behaved wonderfully. He has been flawless, both on the pitch and off it. It’s true that a month is not enough time to make a full apprasial but, so far, Balotelli has been super in every regard.”

Unfortunately, the injury-enforced lay-off arrived at the precise moment in which Balotelli looked set to reclaim his place in the Rossoneri starting line-up. Now, though, he must play a waiting game. He is not expected back until January and then, the pressure will be on him to pick up where he left off. He will have to; he simply has no other choice. Balotelli appears to be a changed man but now, more than ever, he is running out of time.


By Federico Cassotti | Editor Goal Italia

Mario Balotelli’s relationship with the national team ended on June 24, 2014 in Natal. That was the date on which Italy were eliminated from the group stage of the World Cup after a 1-0 loss to Uruguay. Since that day, Balotelli’s career has gone into freefall, for both club and country.

From the moment he took charge of the Azzurri, Antonio Conte has shown little sympathy towards Balotelli and his downward spiral. After being initially being overlooked by the former Bianconeri boss, the striker was recalled to the Italy set-up in November of last year but was not given any game time on the back of a series of typically lethargic and indifferent performances in training.

The return to Milan this summer once again prompted talk of an international recall but Conte made his stance very clear: “Balotelli? He needs to follow a particular parth to get into the national team. Two good games are not enough to reclaim the Azzurri jersey. I need to have certain assurances and the same goes for him as everyone else. Mario must be determined in his search for consistency.”

The door is almost closed but, with the right attitude, Balotelli still has time to reopen it.


By Melissa Reddy | Liverpool Correspondent

Given Liverpool’s misfortune in terms of injuries and in front of goal, you’d expect the news of Balotelli’s setback to be dispiriting on Merseyside. However, the common response to his hernia complaint has been a shrug of the shoulders, much like the striker’s demeanour when he was playing for club.

Balotelli is in the distance now, and that’s where most Liverpool fans like him best. Despite his obvious talent and his ability to produce magnificent moments, the Italian is not missed at Melwood, where his application in training was non-existent and his individualism over the collective was not appreciated. As the club’s former captain Steven Gerrard stated: “You’re always fighting a losing battle with Balotelli. He does too many things wrong.”

Balotelli’s injury will not make Liverpool’s task of offloading him permanently any easier. And while Jurgen Klopp has been keen to analyse the club’s on-loan players, the manager is not expected to plump for the Italian given the player’s aversion to hard work.


By Chris Davie | Goal UK

Balotelli has slipped off the radar completely following his return to Italy and his low profile hasn’t been helped by his hernia injury.

At international level, Antonio Conte’s refusal to give him any game time since the 2014 World Cup – even for September’s matches against Malta and Bulgaria – signals a player in decline, rather than one who is getting his career on track.

From a Premier League point of view, consistency has always been Balotelli’s downfall. At Manchester City and, in very rare cases, Liverpool, he may have shown flashes of his talent but it’s never been enough to prove that he has the hallmarks of a world-class striker.

However, until we see him score regularly in Serie A and return to the national team, the most we’ll see of Balotelli will be via his Instagram account.

Balotelli out for a month, AC Milan confirm

The striker has been out of action since late September but will be out for at least a further four weeks after he underwent surgery in Munich

AC Milan have confirmed that Mario Balotelli will be out of action for at least a month after undergoing surgery.

The Italy international, who is currently on loan from Liverpool, needed to go under the knife due to groin problems but is expected back before Christmas, the San Siro side have said.

The striker has not featured for Milan since late September due to injury, having made just four league appearances for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men this term – scoring one goal.

“Mario Balotelli underwent surgery in Munich,” a statement from the club read. “The operation was successful and recovery time will be about 4 weeks, unless there are complications.”

The Rossoneri currently sit sixth in Serie A after 12 games and are unbeaten in their last five games as they sit seven points behind leaders Fiorentina.

Balotelli to undergo surgery

The striker, on loan currently from Liverpool, has not featured for the Rossoneri since the end of September and will now undergo an operation on his problem groin

AC Milan have confirmed Mario Balotelli will undergo surgery on a persistent groin injury in Munich on Wednesday.

The Liverpool loanee has not played since a 1-0 defeat to Genoa on September 27, with coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, speaking last month, refusing to put a timeframe on the striker’s return.

Mihajlovic also commented at the time that Balotelli was continuing to work on strengthening the muscle, but the decision has now been made for the 25-year-old to go under the knife.

“AC Milan communicates that tomorrow Mario Balotelli will have surgery to correct a persistent groin injury in Munich, Germany,” read a club statement.

“The injury has been on-going for weeks and conservative treatment has not had the desired effect.

“The operation will be conducted by Professor Ulrike Muschaweck.”

Balotelli has scored one goal in four Serie A appearances for Milan.

Luiz Adriano: Balotelli will get back to his best

The AC Milan attacker says that the Italy international is unfairly maligned by the public and press, while he believes Gianluigi Donnarumma can become a club “legend”

GOALEXCLUSIVE   By Gabriel Pazini 

AC Milan striker Luiz Adriano is in no doubt that Mario Balotelli will rediscover his very best form and claims that the public have the wrong impression of the on-loan Liverpool forward.

Luiz Adriano joined the Rossoneri from Shakhtar Donetsk during a busy summer transfer window at San Siro that also saw Balotelli return to the Giuseppe Meazza after a dismal season at Anfield.

Balotelli’s career has been plagued by controversies on and off the field but Luiz Adriano says that the Italy international still has it in him to become the player that lit up Euro 2012 with a stunning two-goal salvo against Germany in the semi-finals.

“The qualities that he possesses and the work he is doing here guarantee that he will return to being that Balotelli,” the Brazilian told Goal.

“Now it is time for him to be get well physically, get confident again and play like he played before, so that the world can see that quality that he has.

“What impresses me the most about him is his technical quality. He has a lot of skills and can change any game at any time.”

Luiz Adriano was also keen to dispel any doubt’s around Balotelli’s work ethic, insisting that the 25-year-old is a very different character to the one portrayed in the press.

“To the public, he seems like a very serious guy,” the €8 million signing said. “But he is not that serious during the days on which we don’t have a game.

“He is, though, very focused and very determined. He has not arrived late for any practice sessions in Milan. He is working hard and giving the best of himself.

“Those things that the press said about what he did at the other clubs, he is not doing them at Milan. He is being very professional.”

However, the focus at Milan in recent weeks has not been on Balotelli’s behaviour but rather 16-year-old goalkeeping sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has taken Diego Lopez’s place in Sinisa Mihajlovic’s starting line-up. 

Luiz Adriano has been hugely impressed with the youngster’s talent, comparing him to former Rossoneri shot-stopper Dida. 

“This boy has a lot of quality,” the 28-year-old attacker enthused. “Although he is a tall goalkeeper, he is agile.

“He is already starting in a big club. I think that he has everything to become a legend in Milan – like Dida was when he played for Milan – because he is an excellent goalkeeper.”

Luiz Adriano was also full of praise for fellow forward Carlos Bacca, who has made a fine start to his San Siro career, netting six times in 12 Serie A outings so far.

The Selecao ace says he has already formed an excellent rapport with the Colombian, something he says is indicative of the positive atmosphere at Milanello at the moment, with the Rossoneri having recovered from a dismal start to the season to move into contention for a top-three finish.

“It’s very good [the relationship with Bacca],” Luiz Adrian added. “We are always joking around in the dressing room and talking. He is a really nice guy.

“But I think that the group of players we have at Milan is very good. Everybody hangs out with everybody. There is no player that wants to be bigger than the other.

“Everybody wants to win together, and this is what makes the difference for any group.”

Mihajlovic: Balotelli still can't run

The striker is currently out of action with a groin injury and his manager says he still can’t put a time frame on his recovery

AC Milan head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic says Mario Balotelli still can’t run as he continues his recovery from a groin injury.

The Liverpool loanee showed some encouraging glimpses of form last month and scored in the 3-2 victory over Udinese, but a persistent groin problem has kept him sidelined since the 1-0 defeat to Genoa on September 27.

Mihajlovic says Balotelli is continuing to work on strengthening the muscle but admits he cannot say when he will be available.

“The groin pain comes and goes. The doctors are trying everything to solve the problem,” he said.

“He is working to strengthen the painful part, he’s trying everything but he can’t run. I don’t know when he can come back.”

Milan got back to winning ways on Sunday against Sassuolo and Mihajlovic is refusing to give up hope of a Champions League spot, despite the fact his side sit in 10th place.

“Of course I believe,” he said. “If Juve believe in a Scudetto comeback, we can make a comeback to the Champions League.

“The team is more compact now. Before, we didn’t attack and defend, but now it’s better. But the goal is to concede fewer chances than before. 

“We must try to win. I want to see the spirit of the last few minutes against Sassuolo. They responded well straight after the goal and tried to play, and were rewarded in the end.”

Gianluigi Donnarumma became the youngest goalkeeper to start a Serie A match on Sunday at the age of 16 years and eight months, and Mihajlovic hinted that he could keep his place against Chievo on Wednesday.

“I didn’t take off Lopez because he conceded a goal against Torino, but because, at the moment, Donnarumma looks better to me,” he added. “We have two great goalkeepers with great personality, who are very reliable.”