IFD takes a closer look at how a move to the MLS for Mario Balotelli could be just the thing to restart his career.
Mario Balotelli has reached a crossroad in his career. The 24-year old Italian has lived a full life in calcio, experiencing both glory and anguish.
Coming out of the 2011-12 season in which he won the Premier League title with Manchester City and was the driving force for Italy in reaching the Euro final it seemed as though Balotelli was poised to take the next step in his career, but that was not the case. Balotelli had falling out with manager Roberto Mancini, who brought him to City to give him a fresh chance away from the criticism at Inter. He was sent back to his former city, but this time playing for rival AC Milan.
Balotelli’s time at Milan can be described as successful, but not without drama. He transferred in January of 2013 and in that half season was a force, scoring 12 goals in 13 games. He was less successful in 2013/14 and was once again sold to a Premier League side, Liverpool. Despite high praise from Liverpool manager Brenden Rodgers there were few opportunities for first team action. Following the recent signings of Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke along with his support of former teammate Raheem Sterling it would appear that there is no room for Balotelli within the club.
Where does that leave Balotelli? What is his next step? In my eyes the right decision is to come to the land of opportunity and live the American Dream.
Major League Soccer has established itself in the United States, celebrating 20 years of existence and recently signing the most lucrative television contract in league history. With the increased revenue there has also been in influx of talent from across the globe. The MLS has historically provided former greats a place to play out their twilight years in coveted cities at a good salary as designated players. If Balotelli were to come to the MLS this would finally give the league a young star who has proven himself at the highest level of competition and still has the potential to improve.
Italian players are not foreign to the MLS, and with players like Sebastian Giovinco and Andrea Pirlo playing there has been increased coverage of the league abroad, especially in Italy. La Gazzetta dello Sport publishes content frequently on the MLS and that will surely increase once Pirlo begins to play for NYCFC. Balotelli moving to the MLS will help his cause much more than spending time on the bench at Liverpool. Antonio Conte has previously stated that playing in the MLS is “an opportunity that as a soccer player I would’ve taken immediately. I never had the experience overseas and it’s very formative.”
Balotelli is just what the MLS needs, a polarizing figure who has a lot to offer to the league. Most people have an opinion about Super Mario, be it positive or negative. His personality and style of play will likely be the topic of conversation on a regular basis, and keep the league top of mind in the eyes of the North American sports landscape.
A move to the MLS will be a mutually beneficial experience for both Balotelli and the league. He will once again get another fresh start, thousands of miles away from the aggressive journalists and critical pundits. He can focus on his craft and regaining a spot on the Italian National Team while improving his image in a new country. The league has been devoid of young DP superstar since inception and this one comes with a personality to boot. It is yet to be known what the next chapter in the Mario Balotelli saga is but I am hoping it takes place in the United States.