Love him or hate him, there’s no doubt that Mario Balotelli is an exceptional striker, but also a person with a volatile temper and childish behavior showcased quite often. The best player AC Milan have, there is no doubt, but far too important in his role if the club is to regain its status as one of the top teams in Europe.
The financial hits Milan have taken over the last few years have relegated them from Italian champions in 2011 to a team that barely makes it into the Champions League, and for the second straight season has to go through an awful start to the league, currently at 12th in the league, winning only twice out of their first seven matches.
The biggest problem for Milan right now? Balotelli is suspended for going after the referee in the postmatch incident after Milan lost at home to Napoli. That match was something of a perfect example of how important Balotelli is to Milan right now, and how it’s the wrong thing for a team that should be doing a lot better, going by its name, not by its declining squad.
Balotelli plays in a world of his own. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the same during his two years with the Rossoneri, but Ibrahimovic is a much better player, and feels the game much better than Balotelli, knowing when to stop try and do everything on his own. It resulted in a league title (Their first since 2004) and a second place finish, but Berlusconi took that team apart by letting go of all the old players while selling Ibra and Thiago Silva to PSG.
Balotelli shoots, and shoots, and shoots. He gets angry, and gets into altercations. He dives, and always looks like a second away from losing it completely, doing something foolish and getting himself sent off. For those who don’t follow the Italian league and only get to see Balotelli in the Azzurri shirt, it’s almost like a different player. Balotelli is the main striker and executioner for the national team as well, but there’s something more composed about his behavior when he’s wearing blue. Maybe it’s the influence of players like Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon that’s calming him down, knowing he’s not the biggest show on the pitch.
Milan don’t have such a bad lineup, even though players like Robinho won’t get them anywhere far. At some point, they’ll start winning league matches, even if they continue to play without wings, relying on a four-man midfield that has plenty of tactical uses, but lacks creativity. Not playing with Stephan El Shaarawi is hurting in that aspect as well, while someone exciting like M’Baye Niang isn’t getting enough chances.
Balotelli is relied on for almost everything. Holding up the ball, finishing and for that creativity spark that’s been missing from Milan’s matches. Putting so much on such an unstable individual is almost asking for trouble, and reyling too heavily on someone who isn’t good enough to be a leading man for a team that aspires for more than the round of 16 in the Champions League and finishing 3rd or 4th in Italy.