Tag Archives: mario balotelli

Super Mario regrets Liverpool, but insists the future is bright.

Well, it’s safe to assume that we won’t be seeing Mario Balotelli around Merseyside again. Not unless he joins Everton. The Italian striker was in the news this weekend having scored twice for his new club Nice against the mighty Marseille in a 3-2 win, and also claiming that his stint for Liverpool was “the worst decision of my life”.

The 26-year-old – he’s only twenty-six – scored four goals in 28 appearances in all competitions for the Reds. He scored only the one goal in 20 Serie A games on loan at Milan last season before Jurgen “The Normal One” Klopp deemed him surplus to requirements and Balotelli joined Nice on a free transfer.


“Apart from the fans, who were fantastic, and some players who I got on really well with, I didn’t like the club,” the former Man City striker said. “I had two coaches, with Rodgers and Klopp for a short time, but neither their methods nor their personality left me with a good impression”

I rate Balotelli highly. I think he’s a gifted player. But, and I’m sure I’m not alone here, he appears to have a lack of interest at times. I’ve seen him train a few times and needless to say, he’s wasn’t exactly giving it 100%.

But perhaps Balotelli can turn it around at Nice (I know, I know, we’ve said that before). He’s 26 now. When he was 18 or 19 and promising if difficult player, managers made allowances. Ask Roberto Mancini.

He still regards himself as an elite player. When asked about the Ballon d’Or, he said “I think I could have already won it by now, but by working hard in training I could still win it in the next two or three years.”

The truth is that he’s been nowhere near making the final three, let alone winning it. But he’s right. It’s not too late. Football is a short career and regrets last a lot longer. I wonder is Super Mario finally realising this and will he get down to showing the world what a remarkable player he truly can be.


Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

What next for Mario Balotelli?

There’s a great moment in the 2012 interview between Noel Gallagher and Mario Balotelli when the Italian international promises the former Oasis guitarist his infamous “Why Always Me?” t-shirt. The looks on Gallagher Snr’s face is that of a genuine fan – something we don’t see that often – such is the aura of Balotelli’s genius. He was a much-loved maverick striker with lethal ability and his antics off-the-pitch were just as legendary.

Fast-forward three years and the striker’s days of being the superstar footballer that was a manager’s dream (or nightmare depending on the day in particular). 



When Balotelli burst onto the scene as an Inter Milan player, he made plenty of manager’s – and indeed fans – take notice. Here was a player with an incredible and unique talent and personality to boot. It was the former that earned him the respect, and the latter that often tested the patience of managers such as José Mourinho, Roberto Mancini and Cesare Prandelli.

When Brendan Rodgers signed the Italian a year ago, he said it was a “calculated risk”. An interesting term when you think about it, but it turns out that Balotelli hasn’t delivered for the Reds. In fact, he hasn’t been the Mario Balotelli that intrigued managers and wowed fans (and vice-versa) in years previous.

Balotelli turns 25 within a fortnight and, not long ago, it was predicted that he should be hitting his peak years around now and playing for one of football’s elite clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Instead, Liverpool have been purchasing attacking players means that the Italian finds himself down the pecking order at both club and, due to poor form, country.


A move out of Anfield is the logical solution and reports of clubs such as Sampdoria and Bologna are prepared to take the 24-year-old back to Serie A, where he first burst onto the scene at the age of 17.

Perhaps it would be best for Mario to go back there. The two clubs widely reported to be keen on him would be good for him – Sampdoria, who finished last year in 7th place would obviously see Balotelli as the obvious replacement for the outgoing Stefano Okaka – and newly-promoted Bologna, who would benefit hugely from a player of Balotelli’s talent, personality and experience.

But Brendan Rodgers has said that the Italian’s future is entirely up to himself. “He is working hard to get fit and we will see when the season begins,” the Liverpool boss said. Indeed, time will tell. But it would be great to see the Mario Balotelli of old back in the back (and almost unavoidably front) pages.


Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)


Is the end is nearing for Liverpool’s Balotelli?

When Mario Balotelli joined Liverpool last August from AC Milan, I read one memorable line in a newspaper to describe the deal. It said “when Balotelli joins a club there is celebrations. But there is bigger celebrations when he leaves”. Think about that for a minute.

I was in Milan last month and some Rossoneri fans told me that they certainly won’t miss Mario around the San Siro, (they had recently signed forwards Jeremy Menez and Fernando Torres), but they still love him. It’s safe to say that Brendan Rodgers knew what he was getting himself into when he signed the Italian international. But did he really think it could go so poorly so quickly?

Balotelli is a brilliant footballer. I’m just going to say that because it is a fact. He’s incredibly agile, full of pace, he has incredible strength and his technical ability is phenomenal. But it’s very frustrating for managers, team-mates and fans because he doesn’t always use these attributes to the best of his ability. And, at best, he’s currently giving 50% in the Liverpool shirt.

When’s he on form, he is brilliant. When he is not on form, he is somewhat thoughtless, unprofessional and immature. This is a player who José Mourinho, Roberto Mancini and Cesare Prandelli all gave up on. Brendan Rodgers’ biggest achievement this season could be getting through to the Italian and turning him around. That’s if he doesn’t ship him out of Anfield in January.

The thing is for Balotelli is that if he doesn’t start scoring or performing well, it’s highly likely that he will be sent elsewhere. Previously when managers signed him, they knew he was trouble, but he gets goals and results. He’s not doing either for Liverpool. There may not be a great deal of interested parties willing to take the chance Brendan Rodgers too in August.

For Liverpool’s sake, he needs to drill it into Balotelli to use his brain and his feet. Otherwise it will mark the end of another turbulent chapter in the life of Mario Balotelli.


Follow Rob Smith on Twitter @robsmithireland

Could Rodgers get the best out of Balotelli?

The big transfer news this week, as most of you will be well aware of at this stage, is that the ever-eccentic Mario Balotelli is soon to become a Liverpool player. This was greeted with much delight from the red half of Merseyside. And understandably so. But the general feeling is that Mario’s behaviour may disrupt the harmony that Brendan Rodgers has kept at Anfield during his tenure there.

Of course it’s now three weeks that have passed since the Liverpool boss said “categorically” that he would not be signing the Italian striker. But, as ever, nothing in football is impossible.


People took to social media to question if Rodgers could “get Balotelli to sort his head out”. Let’s be honest, nobody can change Super Mario’s personality. He doesn’t do the whole respect-for-authority thing. But maybe Rodgers can use him more efficiently than some previous managers.

Balotelli, when at his best, can be world-class. He is one of the best penalty takers I’ve seen in some time and has fierce ability. He is incredibly competitive – similar to that of Luis Suarez – but the Uruguayan had a never-give-up attitude. The Italian international tends to drift in and out of games if decisions seem to go against him.

There’s good and bad with purchasing Mario Balotelli: the bad is his attitude, professionalism and his eccentric behaviour off the pitch which attracts much press attention (see the video below about him discussing it with Noel Gallagher). The good is, as I said before, he can be world-class. It will be up to Brendan Rodgers and Mario himself to bring that out week in, week out.

One thing that’s guaranteed is that his time at Merseyside, good or bad, will not be dull.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)


Sneijder's Turkish delight and other January movers and rumours

Dutch superstar Wesley Sneijder was, just yesterday, given just 24 hours to decide if he wants to swap the blue and black of Inter Milan for the yellow and red of Galatasaray following the Turkish side’s €10 million bid was accepted by the Italian giants.

“Galatasaray’s offer satisfies us. Now it depends on the player,” Inter president Massimo Moratti told Sky Sports. “We would be happy if he decided to stay on our terms.”

By “our terms”, he means taking a pay cut of about €2 million per season which Sneijder has publicly refused to accept (he hasn’t played for Inter since September 25th of last year as a result of this dispute). The Dutch maestro arrived from Real Madrid for €15 million back in 2009. But unless a late offer comes in (and Manchester United, Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool are reported to be keeping an eye on this situation), then Sneijder could be swapping Milan for Istanbul before the weekend.

Elsewhere in this transfer window, Giuseppe Rossi has left Villareal after six years at the Spanish side. He joins Fiorentina for a fee of about €10 million. Excellent business for such a great attacking playmaker – but one that is, in recent times, unfortunately quite injury-prone.

Meanwhile Tottenham have been eyeing up Brazilian star Leandro Damião from Internacional. With Emmanuel Adebayor’s decision to go to the Africa Nations Cup, AVB is rumoured to be interested in the 23-year-old. Though he won’t come cheap. Then again – talent like this rarely does.

Finally, following his run-in with boss Roberto Mancini last week, there are plenty of rumours doing the rounds that Mario Balotelli is set to leave Man City in this transfer window. His destination: his native Italy. But not to AC Milan if club owner Silvio Berlusconi has anything to do with it, having said that Balotelli is “a bad apple,” and did not want him in the Rossoneri squad. We shall have to wait and see what the predictably unpredictable Super Mario has up his sleeve then.

Keep an eye on the blog in the coming days for the big moves in this transfer window as well as our usual  (and even unusual) content.

Also, the blog has decided to get involved with social media – so do check us out on Faceboook.


Meanwhile, all your opinions, questions and general rants about the big moves in this transfer window thus far can be sent to Rob Smith via Twitter (@robsmithireland).

Basque total football, Balotelli rumours and the Blues seek European revenge on Barça

Well, the mid-week Champions League footie was good, wasn’ it? But look at the forthcoming fixture list for the semi finals. Barcelona v Chelsea – a difficult one for Chelsea who needn’t be reminded of the events when the two sides last met in the Champions League semi final 2nd leg at the Bridge back in 2009. The Londoners are out for revenge against the mighty Barça side. The other one, Bayern Munich v Real Madrid, is historically one of the most tense duels on the European stage – scandals, controversies and carnage have been on the menu in previous ties. An El Clásico final? Quite the thought, eh?

Another el clásico/fight, anyone?


Speaking about European competitions, how good have Athletic Bilbao been in the Europa League? Amazing to watch, aren’t they? They are making Thursday nights enormously worthwhile, footie-wise. They’ve tossed a little-known team called Manchester United out of the competition, have a date booked against FC Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final and currently lie in 7th place in La Liga with an eye to hopefully make it into the top four and into a Champions League play-off spot. Surely they can’t….can they?

Bilbao - the Basque Brazil


Elsewhere in the beautiful game this week, reports from Italy suggest that Mario Balotelli‘s former club Inter Milan may possibly be interested in taking the Man City nutter back to San Siro. I can hear Noel Gallagher screaming in the distance as I type: “Noooooooooo”. Also, Football El Mundo also bids farewell to the former Italy, Lazio, New York Cosmos and Swansea City striker Giorgio Chinaglia who passed away last Sunday. Here are all 50 goals from his record-breaking 1980 NASL season with the New York Cosmos – a club he joined in the prime of his career unlike stars such as Pelé and Johann Cruyff.

Is Mario to leave to blue half of Manchester for the blue half of Milan?



Follow Rob Smith @robsmithireland 

Barça's frustration & Balotelli's gate-crashing

Seventy three minutes had passed in both Champions League ties on Tuesday and not a goal had been scored. Were APOEL going to hold the mighty Real Madrid in Europe’s biggest competition? Were Benfica going to cause Chelsea some heartache? Just seventeen more minutes. Sadly it was not meant to be – Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Madrid just then.
Sixty seconds later Salomon Kalou scored for what turned out to be Chelsea’s only goal. Madrid ended up winning 3-0. It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings, as they say. APOEL will need extra choruses to try topple Mourinho’s men in the return leg on April 4.

Twenty-four hours later a very unusual thing happened at the San Siro – for once this season, a big night did not belong to Leo Messi. A stubborn AC Milan side frustrated Barcelona in a 0-0 draw. The Argentinian genius (and my recently crowned “best player ever”) had hit the target in each of his last nine outings for club and country but ran into a dead end in Milan. Barça coach Pep Guardiola will need to be wary of the return leg as the slightest mistake could be enough to see the European champions exit the competition.
Meanwhile at the Stade Velodrome, Bayern Munich took charge of their tie against Marseille with a comfortable 2-0 win. One can’t see them slipping up in the Allianz Arena.

Meanwhile, the brilliant Mario Balotelli interrupted a press conference to congratulate the new Inter Milan coach, Andrea Stramaccioni, on his appointment. As you do. Even Noel Gallagher described Balotelli an individual that “truly does not give a flying f**k about anything”. Which is accurate. He is brilliant though. Check it out here.

When Noely G. met Mario B.

Most of you would have seen or heard the interview with Man City striker Mario Balotelli conducted by a little-known local lad called Noel Gallagher. For those who haven’t yet seen it, enjoy the video. It’s pretty brilliant. For those who want to give it another look, enjoy the video.
By the way, and I’m just gonna throw this out there, but how about giving Noel a regular gig interviewing footballers? Statements such as “My children love you and they don’t even know who you are” are amazing in my book.

Anyway, here is the video in full:

[jwplayer mediaid=”1801″]

Another transfer window, another month of chaos, rumours and big money!

It’s that time again. The transfer window is open. Naturally, the last day of the window (Jan 30th) is always the busiest, but between then and now, we may see some interesting movement throughout the sport.

First off, keep your eye on Paris Saint-Germain (who’s city and club have been recently profiled on this blog). With their Qatari millions backing them, the club’s owners are hungry to make the Parisians what Real Madrid were in the early 2000’s. They’ve already tried to acquire the services of one David Beckham, who recently turned them down in favour of staying put in LA. But PSG have also rumoured to have been eyeing up Mario Balotelli (as have AC Milan) and Alexandre Pato. One thing’s for sure, they will not be quiet in this window.

Speaking of Real Madrid, their defender Raul Albiol is now a target for Manchester City having missed out on the brilliant Daniel De Rossi, who signed a contract extension at Roma. While rivals Man United are linked with CSKA Moscow’s Alan Dzagoev, known as the Russian Leo Messi, himself linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

TH back at the Arsenal. Good or bad?

Elsewhere, Arsenal are linked with Sunderland’s Kieran Richardson and Lyon’s Aly Cissokho having already, all-but-officially, snapped up legend Thierry Henry on a two-month loan from the New York Red Bulls. I have reservations about TH14’s move back to London. It might provide a feel good factor for staff, certain players and fans, but I’d be surprised if the Henry of circa 2003/4 will return to the Emirates. We shall see – only time will tell.

Finally, Brazilian magician Neymar, currently playing with Santos, could leave his club in the window. Club president Luis Ribeiro has admitted he is unable to afford the rising star’s salary. Neymar is a long-time target for Barcelona and AC Milan. Barça might have the upper hand however as they need a replacement for David Villa and AC Milan are expected to land Carlos “I don’t want to play” Tevez, who himself isn’t exactly on peanuts.

Come back to me on Wednesday 1st February for a complete round-up of the major transfers over the next four weeks. Also, keep an eye on my twitter for the big movers as they happen.


The best of 2011

An incredible twelve months of football. Moments of glory, madness, insanity, genius and plain ugly was witnessed by millions. And that was just for Mario Balotelli.

Of course, speaking of glory, a mention must go to Barcelona. It’s no secret of my long-time admiration for the Catalan club. I’ve been to three games in the Camp Nou this season (including one Clásico), but watching them completely outclass Manchester United in the Champions League final last May was so good, it made me feel absolutely no guilt for skipping the speeches at my sister’s wedding that same day. Sheer brilliance. Sorry, sis.

One of the year’s biggest disappointments must be Fernando Torres. Sold in January to Chelsea from Liverpool for £50 million to the disgust of many of the Anfield faithful. But they got the last laugh when El Niño failed to be quite as prolific as he was while wearing red. Don’t be surprised if Torres is at a different club within the next 6/7 months. You know what Roman Abramovich is like: success or the chop.

Of course, the Republic of Ireland deserve to be mentioned. Of course we do. Twenty four years since we qualified for the European Championships – ten since out last major tournament. All under the guidance of Giovanni Trapattoni. He may not have us playing the most beautiful football, but we are hard to beat. As our current record shows. Roll on Poland next June. I won’t be there sadly. “But it must take some pretty big news for you not to go to the Euros, Rob” you might ask. You’re right…it did. Here’s just one of the reasons.

Other than that, have a look at my:

Roll 0n 2012. The year Ireland will win the Euros*



*I am entitled to dream, aren’t I?



Balotelli's £150k late-night curry

Life is never dull anywhere whenever Mario Balotelli is around. The latest is that the Italian facing an internal investigation and possible disciplinary action after breaching Manchester City‘s late-night curfew ahead of Monday’s Premier League match at Chelsea (which he scored in, despite City’s loss).

Balotelli was spotted in a late night Manchester curry house ordering food at the early hours of Sunday morning. Not one to keep things quiet, he was even photographed signing autographs with fellow diners and even engaging in a mock sword-fight. As you do.

The 21-year old could be faced with being fined a week’s wages – which is roughly £150,000 (or €177,000). That must be the most expensive curry in the history of dining. The most expensive Saturday night meal ever? Possibly. But hey – thats just another day (or in this instance, late night) in the chaotic life of Mario Balotelli.


Balotelli's self-indulgence tests Mancini's patience

Manchester City‘s pre-season trip of the US finished up at the weekend with a friendly in Los Angeles as Roberto Mancini‘s men faced David Beckham’s LA Galaxy. But, never being one to shy away from controversy, Mario Balotelli will be talking point of the game for his unusual act of self-indulgence in the first half that saw him substituted followed by a pitch-side argument with manager Mancini.

It started well though. Twenty minutes in City were awarded a penalty in which Balotelli took – and scored. Less than ten minutes later the Italian found himself clean through on goal and attempted to turn 180 degrees, backheeling the ball with the intention of putting it in the back of the net. What happened next was the ball rolled wide, his team-mates and manager were none too pleased and this failed piece of showboating got Balotelli substituted immediately. He was greeted with angry words from Roberto Mancini. Watch below:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/u9VwVeCgcRs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
“In football you always need to be professional, always serious and in this moment he wasn’t professional” said Roberto Mancini after the match in the Home Depot Centre, “he needs to understand that his behaviour has to be good in every game”. It’s certainly not the first time Super Mario has caused problems with his behaviour (and his bib) under Mancini and it may not be the last.

City come to Dublin on Saturday and Sunday to face a League of Ireland XI and Inter Milan respectively. I suspect Balotelli will start in one of the games. But he is testing Mancini’s (and possibly some team-mates’) patience. He may be one of the most promising strikers in world football but proving to be a difficult one.

What is your opinion of Balotelli? Do let me know.

Balotelli vs. his bib

You may have seen this already. I felt it was too good not to put in. This is Mario Balotelli warming up for Manchester City vs. Dynamo Kiev last Thursday. He seems to be struggling with putting on his bib – to the point where he needs assistance. Robbie Savage provides commentary in the video below.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/erI5dG3_R5E" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
To be fair, they are quite tricky – if you’re asleep.