Birthdate: 12 August 1990
Birthplace: Palermo, Italy
Other clubs: Lumezzane (2006-07), Inter (2007-10), Manchester City (2010-13), AC Milan (2013-14), AC Milan (loan, 2015-16), Nice (2016-)
Bought from: AC Milan
Signed for LFC: £16m, 25.08.2014
International debut: 14.08.2010 vs. Cote d'Ivoire
International caps: 33/13 (24.06.2014)
Liverpool debut: 31.08.2014
Last appearance: 28.04.2015
Debut goal: 16.09.2014
Last goal: 19.02.2015
Contract expiry: 2016-08-31
Win ratio: 42.86% W:12 D:4 L:12
Games/goals ratio: 7
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 4 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 16 / 1
Total LFC games/goals: 28 / 4
Player profileMario Balotelli’s roots lie in the west African country of Ghana but he was born on the island of Sicily with his family moving to the mainland and the northern Italian province of Brescia when he was still a toddler. Mario went into foster care and eventually took the surname of the family who had fostered him and they became his permanent guardians. Lumezzane is a town in Brescia and it was at that town’s football club, Associazione Calcio Lumezzane, that Balotelli’s playing career began in earnest. But he only spent one year in Lumezzane’s senior squad before Internazionale of Milan signed him and he played in 11 Serie A matches in the 2007/08 season (scoring three times) while still only 17 years old. He did not, however, make Inter’s match-day squad for either of their Champions League matches against Liverpool in the spring of 2008.
2008/09 was the season when he really broke through. He played in 58% of Inter’s league matches (8 goals) and followed that a year later with 26 appearances (9 goals). Inter, who had won the league in 2008, retained their domestic title for the next two years as well. Balotelli was frequently used in European matches, making 14 appearances in the Champions League (2 goals) during the last two of those championship-winning seasons. Inter also won the Champions League in 2010 but Mario played no part in the Madrid final despite appearing in five of the group matches and three of the knock-out matches.
In the middle of August 2010, on his 20th birthday in fact, the striker moved to Manchester City for a massive fee. His new manager was the Italian Roberto Mancini, who had only arrived at City the previous December but who had also been his manager when Balotelli had joined Inter in 2007. It is fair to say that the two had a somewhat fractious relationship until both left Manchester in 2013, the player in January and the manager in May. On the pitch, however, Mario became a firm fans’ favourite and 13 Premier League goals in 2011/12 were a significant factor in City winning their first domestic championship since 1968. He set up the winning goal for Sergio Agüero, whose added-time strike on the final day of the season snatched the trophy out of Manchester United’s hands. This winning assist as a substitute came despite his manager asserting that the player would take no further part in the run-in after he had received a fourth red card of the season only the previous month.
City fined their forward two weeks’ wages for his appalling disciplinary record in 2011/12 but the player fought that decision and took his appeal to a Premier League tribunal. As the clock ticked down to the start of his hearing Balotelli dropped his appeal and agreed to accept the fine imposed by the club. But a parting of the ways was inevitable and at the end of January 2013 the striker returned to a city he was familiar with but this time to play for Associazione Calcio Milan. He was nothing short of sensational in the half-season that remained, scoring twice on his debut against Udinese (including the penalty that won the match four minutes into added-time) and adding a further 10 league goals from only 12 matches before the season ended. Milan finished third behind Juventus and Napoli with the player appearing to be in much better shape, as was his disciplinary record.
In 2013/14 it was more of the same for Mario as he scored 14 times from 30 Serie A matches with four more goals coming in other first-team matches. He had an eventful day when Napoli came to the San Siro early in the season, missing a second-half penalty (which Pepe Reina saved!), scoring Milan’s consolation goal in the last minute of a 2-1 defeat and then receiving a second yellow card shortly after he had scored. But there was no indication that he was really unhappy in Italy so with three years still to run on his Milan contract it was something of a surprise when he was allowed to join Liverpool. Balotelli's agent, Mino Raiola, stressed what the striker already knew. When asked whether this was a case of "Last Chance Saloon" for Balotelli's career, Raiola gave an honest answer. “At the top level, yes. It's either make or break now. If it goes wrong? Mario is 24 years old. He no longer has the alibi of his age. Now it’s up to him. Another flop is inadvisable."
Although Balotelli's return to the English game with Liverpool was surprising in that he arrived with a certain amount of personal 'baggage' from his past what was perhaps more surprising was that he started only 14 club matches in 2014/15 and might have expected more considering the loss of goals from Suarez (who had moved to Spain) and Sturridge (who was again struggling with injuries). Mario only scored one Premier League goal but added three more in the cup competitions. Although the Italian mostly managed to keep himself out of the media for non-sporting reasons there were more negatives than positives with his maverick attitude. Having signed for four years Liverpool supporters were happy to see him loaned back to his old club Milan in the first weeks of the 2015/16 season. His loan spell was a frustrating one, interrupted by a groin injury which ruled him out for three months. He managed just one league goal in twenty appearances and there was no desire shown by Milan to make the move permanent, leading to his return to Liverpool at the end of the season. Mario was finally let go on a free transfer to Nice on the last day of the 2016 summer transfer window, a costly flop whose career will probably never take flight again.
Appearances per season
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
|1||West Ham United|
Goals per season
A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring
|1||31.08.2014||Tottenham||White Hart Lane||League|
By Football Italia staff on 25 August 2014.More
Only the passing of time will reveal whether or not Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has pulled off an incredible coup by persuading Mario Balotelli to return to English football. More
Aug 21, 2014 21:50 By James Pearce - Liverpool EchoMore
|Club||Season||Club rank||League apps||League goals||Total apps||Total goals|
|Inter Milan||2007-2008||Italy 1||11||3||15||7|
|Inter Milan||2008-2009||Italy 1||22||8||31||10|
|Inter Milan||2009-2010||Italy 1||29||9||43||11|
|Manchester City||2010-2011||England Premier League||17||6||28||10|
|Manchester City||2011-2012||England Premier League||23||13||32||17|
|Manchester City||2012-2013||England Premier League||14||1||20||3|
|AC Milan||2012-2013||Italy 1||13||12||13||12|
|AC Milan||2013-2014||Italy 1||30||14||41||18|
|AC Milan||2015-2016||Italy 1||20||1||23||3|