Many will think that this is a case of the madman running the asylum; maybe they are right in some way. Mario Balotelli is on the verge of signing for Genoa, a club whose only constant is an annual ability to underwhelm, his presence will surely bring further chaos to a club that already has plenty of it. Mario has never had a great relationship with any of his employers, but could it work in the short term? Genoa are in desperate need of a goal scorer and his arrival could give them a spark this season.
Italy’s oldest club reeks of history. From James Richardson Spensley to William Garbutt, from Branco to Tomas Skuhravy, Genoa are a prestigious club. Before penning this piece, it was remiss not to ask a fan of the Grifone what constitutes success. Their answer was swift: ‘Put in performances that make us proud and represent the club in the right way’. With this answer, you would think this next argument would not work. Enter stage right Mr Balotelli.
Admittedly, making people proud is not one of Balotelli’s unique selling points. Making fans excited, however, is. Genoa have assembled a good squad this year and hopes are high, the loss of Andrea Pinamonti who went back to Inter was a blow, as he had so much potential and his departure left a huge hole upfront. Let us be clear, when we talk about high hopes for Genoa, we are not talking about Europe or winning the Coppa Italia. We are talking about establishing themselves as a mid-table club and not changing multiple coaches in a campaign.
Last season a 17th-place finish was too close to Serie B, the veteran Goran Pandev was their top scorer with nine goals and they ploughed through three coaches. President Enzo Preziosi, let’s not forget, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He wants to sell the club as he cannot keep investing in it, but he needs them to stay in Serie A to be a viable asset. What is good for the Rossoblu is consistency; this would make Genoa look like a club that was something a foreign owner would want to buy.
So why all the hope? Genoa have built a good squad despite all the hardships. Marko Pjaca is just one of the players who has arrived on loan from Juventus and scored on his debut in the 4-1 win over Crotone. So did Davide Zappacosta, who arrived from Chelsea and will work well in the 3-5-2, and Mattia Perin extended January’s loan from Juventus to provide a huge upgrade in the goalkeeping position. Milan Badelj came in from Lazio and will provide stability in midfield, whilst Mattia Destro may not be everyone’s favourite, but could be useful up front.
To reiterate, nobody is talking about Europa League finishes or silverware, but that does not mean Genoa are not worth talking about. If you give this team a front man like Balotelli, then with these players around him, it is not the wildest dream to think that he could get 10 goals and help Genoa finish in mid-table. What is the alternative? Try and push through the season relying on Goran Pandev? In fairness, he has netted already, but even the great Macedonian cannot last a full campaign.
Even if this has not convinced you, don’t we just want to see Mario Balotelli back? Picture the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, smoke from the flares billowing from the Curva (when fans are back), it’s the Derby Della Lanterna, the teams come out in the remarkable Genoa kit for this season, Sampdoria look over at the Genoese and there is Balotelli scowling back. Who does not want to watch that match?