Saturday August 23 2014
Balotelli's no leader and that's ok

Mino Raiola finally hit upon the truth about Mario Balotelli – he’s no leader and we’re wrong to expect otherwise, argues Susy Campanale.

Mario Balotelli is on his “Last Chance Saloon” at Liverpool, as confirmed by his agent Mino Raiola. “It’s make or break.” What his experience in the last year at Milan and in the Italy squad shows us is that perhaps he isn’t the one who needs to change. Our expectations of him do.

Raiola’s illuminating interview with the Corriere della Sera finally hit upon some home truths about Balotelli and showed even his own representative has lost patience. We’ve all been waiting for Balotelli to mature into a responsible grown-up, a man who his teammates can look to in times of crisis and rely on when the going gets tough. In other words, a leader. It’s time we all accept Balotelli will never be that man. And that’s ok.

Not every player is a leader, otherwise there would be no point in having a hierarchy. There are silent leaders like Andrea Pirlo, volcanic leaders such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and determined leaders in the Gennaro Gattuso mould. Milan have no leaders right now – as shown by giving the captain’s armband to Riccardo Montolivo – and they wrecked Balotelli by trying to push him into the role.

It was like thinking your infant son should mature and learn about the world by pushing him into a pool to get over his fear of water. It might work, or more likely it’ll cause deep psychological scars and leave him more afraid than ever.

Mario might be able to find his feet at Liverpool, but only if people stop expecting him to lead from the front. The same goes for his Italy career, where Antonio Conte and the media have to simply accept there are players who are leaders and players who don’t want or need the responsibility of a nation on their shoulders.

I’ve been guilty of this too, complaining he hasn’t grown up yet and has no excuse at 24 for this sort of behaviour. Who said a professional football player has to be a boring grown-up? Maturity is over-rated and we should let Mario enjoy being who he is, on and off the field. It’s not his fault that he fails to live up to our expectations because we’ll forever be waiting for a completely different person, maybe someone we wouldn’t even like. 

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Have your say...
Have some forgotten Balotelli is not eligible to play against Norway so he should be dropped either way. I wonder if earning 100,000k a week contributes to the chip on the shoulder. First game for liverpool 4 good chances to score no goal, Balo runs as much as De Rossi well considering he is over 6 years younger so he should be. Anyone seen the new puma advert, something about trouble maker and Balo getting booked, they got that one spot on. Nothing wrong giving others a chance.
on the 4th September, 2014 at 9:17am
Your best players need to lead, by definition. They set the example. So, because Mario isn't or can't be a leader, he no longer possesses the potential to be a great player. Above average, yes. But not a "great" player. In the States, we have many players like this: good athlete, bad attitude.
on the 29th August, 2014 at 3:28pm
It's really hard being a Milan fan sometimes.

I completely agree with Marco on this one - nobody on this blog has mentioned anything about Balo's colour or creed. It's a pointless topic because this has no relevance to what the main topic is ...Balotelli as a footballer. His attitude stinks, at times it looks as if he doesn't care - I wonder whould he care if his wages were dropped to £10K a week? Getting paid stupid money with no effort returned, he's one of the most frustrating players ever!!
on the 28th August, 2014 at 9:54am
Di Rocco you need to grow up, we are no longer living eighty years ago, Balotelli performances on the football pitch have nothing to do with his colour. For a man with his talent which he has, and general size he has under achieved due to attitude and temperament. I haven't seen anyone on this site even mention anything about colour or creed so I like many others don't see what you're cranking on about. You seem to be the only one mentioning the fact Balo is black. Peculiar.
on the 27th August, 2014 at 10:51pm
wait, we scored how many goals in the World Cup ? and who scored it ?

people need to think about reality instead of wrapping the world up in their perceptions.
on the 27th August, 2014 at 10:03pm
@ anonymous Don't worry most of his critics struggle with specifics. Facts always get in the way. I agree with you though that he struggled for a position at Milan (while still scoring 30 goals in 54 games). That says more about the lack of tactical awareness of Allegri and Seedorf (the latter of course was not qualified to be a manager) than Balotelli's failings. It'll be interesting to see if and how he interchanges with Sturridge and Sterling at Liverpool.
on the 26th August, 2014 at 12:46pm
@ Papaberts Call me cynical but De Rossi's comments have achieved his desired result. He's managed to divert blame on to his fellow, younger team mates and so will be able to come back to Serie A after another World Cup disaster. If that's true then he's a complete and utter coward. I think he's a coward in any event for blaming his team mates and failing to take personal responsibility. De Rossi was one of my favourite players before the World Cup but now I have zero respect for him.
on the 26th August, 2014 at 11:28am
@ Di Rocco How do you feel about the treatment Insigne's getting? I couldn't believe he was being booed by his own fans. No offence but I hope he leaves Napoli. He could probably do with a spell in Germany just to get his career on track again after being used as another scapegoat after the World Cup. You can probably say this about a lot of young players in Serie A!
on the 26th August, 2014 at 11:19am
Great business for Milan and bad news for Liverpool. Inter weren't stupid when they let him go at 19. Has his character matured changed since. No! He is still an immature child with a huge chip on his shoulder. It will be the same at Liverpool. I predict that he will not last a year at Liverpool and be a bench warmer at best within the first few games.Less than 10 goals too as I assume Gerrard will take the penalties.
on the 26th August, 2014 at 8:56am
@maldini heir
It is hard to point out specific moments. I do not share views of the haters. I had really high hopes for him when he arrived at Milan, I think the problem is he lacks versatility, he is like a lost striker, in most games I saw he tends to drift wide and deep sometimes virtually next to the midfield which for a striker is the wrong place to be. I can't see liverpool being any different, putting a mentally young player into a team of youngsters is not the answer for him or liverpool
on the 26th August, 2014 at 8:06am
You have to ask yourself why were Milan so desperate to get rid of him that they would give him away for peanuts.

If you saw a car for sale at half its normal price you wouldn't buy it because you would know there was a problem.

on the 26th August, 2014 at 8:01am
Sit back and watch the english media once again create the Balotelli circus whilst at the same time Balotelli will revel in all the attention and give them plenty of ammo.

The reason he wanted to leave italy is because the italian media didn't treat him with the attention he wants or treated him like the pop star/celebrity he wants to be.

I'm tempted to say Liverpool have made a big mistake but for 16m million which is a ridiculous price it might be worth the risk even if it is a huge one.
on the 26th August, 2014 at 7:55am
I would have to agree that this is a good move as well. Balotelli replacing the "man in the mask," Luis Suarez. In other words good luck to Balotelli and Liverpool. Good luck to Milan as well, a win win situation for all parties.
on the 26th August, 2014 at 1:03am
I miss him already!!!
on the 25th August, 2014 at 10:24pm
@Maldini's Heir fair enough. Respect the honesty. Good luck!
on the 25th August, 2014 at 7:56pm
@ Di Rocco again I agree. You want to see the abuse he is continuing to get on twitter and Instagram. It's beyond me how Mario Balotelli still has the desire to play for Italy. It's pure abuse, and occasional racism! What doesn't help it's shameful players like De Rossi after the WC with his comments. Some one should remind him that he was a non contributive squad player in 2006 and then maybe "a bassa un po la testa". I agree Mario Balotelli is inconsistent but when he's on form he's class!
on the 25th August, 2014 at 7:48pm
@Maldinis Heir, @papaberts, Glad to see Im not the only one who feels Mario is being treated completely unfairly. He does not deserve this hatred, regardless of his antics. At the end of the day he is just a young man trying to find his way through a maze of hype, pressure, and insults. Just because we deem him a 'professional' player does not mean he is capable of handling all of this non sense. I really hope Liverpool gives him the right environment to flourish and find his feet.
on the 25th August, 2014 at 6:31pm
Good comments from Di Rocco and Maldini Heir. A bad game does not make you a liability. I am a fanatical Napoli and a Nazionale fan and cannot believe the abuse this player has received. shame on Italy to allow young talent like Mario Balotelli, Ciro Immobilie and rumours that Destro may also be going overseas. my 2nd team used to be AC Milan (has made Italy proud in the past) but allowing Pirlo and now Balotelli go.....can someone tell when did Mickey Mouse take over AC. All the best Mario!
on the 25th August, 2014 at 4:53pm
@ Joey Calcio I am bitter. I'm bitter that milan have taken another step backwards. But I'm also sick of people talking about balotelli and sick of the constant digs. Just the poor guy alone
on the 25th August, 2014 at 2:25pm
@ Di Rocco Exactly. Well said. I've been on here defending Balotelli for a while now not because I think he's a great player without fault but just because I believe the treatment his given is a disgrace. Your post put more eloquently than I've managed in 100!
on the 25th August, 2014 at 2:08pm
@ Anonymous you'll need to point me to examples (I.e. name them) of when balotelli was a liability for milan. There's the incident after Napoli and....?

Ps having a bad game doesn't make you a liability. It just means you had a bad game
on the 25th August, 2014 at 11:17am
Balotelli + Liverpool = Great for both parties. Going to a country that loves him. Welcome back Mario. Premiership will be even better this year.
on the 25th August, 2014 at 9:19am
The least interesting player in Serie A for me. And now Liverpool will have to take the can on this. Balotelli is just not dedicated enough - his troubles in Italy centre on this. Balotelli has a puma contract for what? Nothing other than Puma knowing he gets the headlines, for not scoring goals but acting the buffoon. He has been so poor even his agent is trying to get him out of his stasis by saying this his last chance. No GREAT player EVER needs a last chance - simple.
on the 25th August, 2014 at 7:50am
Further more, regardless of a bunch of weekend fans "not rating him", Mario scored 30 goals in 54 games for Milan. All of this despite playing on the worst Milan side in half a century with the entire organization on his shoulders. Where would this team have been without Marios contribution the past year and half? I'll tell you where, absolutely mid table. Tenth or lower, without one doubt. You needed him more than he needed your ungrateful and unsupportive club. Same goes for all Italy fans.
on the 25th August, 2014 at 12:48am
ALL of you people commenting should seriously be ashamed of yourselves. YOU'RE THE REASON HE GOT OVER HYPED TO BEGIN WITH! All of you have been just waiting for Mario to fail so you can say "I told you so". Either that or you're the ingrates that hyped him up to begin with, and are now "not rating him". Let the man play and live his life however he sees fit. Im guessing none of you have grown up a black man in Italy, so quite frankly, you have no idea what Mario has been through.
on the 25th August, 2014 at 12:44am
@ Maldini's sound a little disgruntled. Susy hit the nail on the head, I always said Balotelli was way over rated & mainly due to his antic instead of football. I was delighted when we sold him to City for €30m age 19! Forza Inter!
on the 25th August, 2014 at 12:24am
As someone who has supported and defended Balotelli his whole career I cant make excuses for him anymore, and this is the problem....No one has asked him to be a leader, a captain etc...all that's asked of him is to play football to his ability, which bar the odd occasion he has not done.... as a milanista I was so excited when he signed 18 months ago, but now I am just as happy for him to leave, I genuinely wish him all the best for the sake of la nazionale
on the 24th August, 2014 at 11:12pm
He has so much to offer ! However a big lad like him can play football at the right pace and cause any defender problems . Testament was a World Cup q where osvaldo got sent off . Another waste ! Balo played out of his skin ! Italy won amazing fighting spirit . So he can do it , unfortunately he must be on the dolce gabanna shopping going on . Waste and uninterested . Milan need commitment at this time ! He will never play that well again ! Big sulker ..... Leave on the bench for Italy
on the 24th August, 2014 at 10:37pm
Balotelli is a liability to clubs. Suarez is a liability to clubs. Ibra has been known to be a bit of a liability too, as was zidane and maradonna. The diffrence is they made up and make up for the behaviour issues with excellent performances and goals... Balotelli hasn't even given us a glimpse of the hype, infact all he does is give ammunition to the so called 'haters'.
Balotelli has managed to convert those who once believed in him to 'haters' too. That Says evertlything!
on the 24th August, 2014 at 9:56pm
O don't start the racial thing again! can people not say the guys rubbish without so half wit coming on here and using the racial card! Bottom line is milan fans all over the world (black and white) seem to be happy with the departure of this over hyped primadonna. He not only drained the life out of the players around him but he drains the reresources of clubs as he needs special attention from management, staff and players. He is a liability to any club hence they all sent him packing!
on the 24th August, 2014 at 9:40pm

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