Club Focus – Man City – Has Balotelli finally grown up?

The news that Mario Balotelli has asked Cesare Prandelli for help after the Italian national Coach omitted him from the Euro 2012 qualifier with Slovenia might just be an indication the 20-year-old is finally growing up.

Since his £24m arrival from Inter Milan, Balotelli has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, with his sending off for a reckless high tackle in last week´s Europa League tie against Dynamo Kiev probably costing the Blues a quarter-final spot. While City supporters are quick to recognise that what they have in Balotelli is undoubtedly a tremendous talent, there are also those who would describe him as a liability whose behaviour is too unpredictable for his own – and particularly the team´s – good.

Balottelli´s demeanour on the pitch has also not endeared him to fans outside of the blue half of Manchester, with any signs he actually enjoys playing the game noticeably absent, yet the striker himself now has the chance to make amends. Following the Italian FA´s crackdown on players indulging in unsporting conduct, Prandelli admits he is impressed with Balotelli´s change in attitude. “I have heard from Balotelli,” he said, “and he understands that he made a fool of himself. He told me: ‘I need help. I always ruin everything but I care a lot about the team.’”

Balottelli´s agent, Mino Raiola, has also distanced his client from reports that his relationship with boss Roberto Mancini has broken down and insists: “he will come out of this stronger than before.” Even so, it is up to Mancini to prove that his faith in the youngster is not misplaced as he seeks to get him back on track. After all, it is not as if he was an unknown quantity when he came to England, with Mancini having been in charge at Inter when Mario first came to prominence as a 17-year-old.

In addition, he is well aware of the player´s disciplinary problems and his difficult relationship with former Inter boss Jos

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