Balotelli looks to finally live up to the hype

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has voiced his pleasure at Mario Balotelli’s attitude after the Italian striker recently lost his place in the City starting line-up. After a string of reported on and off-field misdemeanours as well as the instant impact made by Sergio Aguero since his big-money move from Atletico Madrid, Balotelli has found himself on the fringes of a City side among the early pace-setters in the title race. However, despite the forward’s questionable temperament, his compatriot feels the player’s recent show of character proves he still has a big part to play in his side’s quest for honours.

No stranger to headlines, Balotelli arrived in Manchester following a controversial spell at Inter Milan, while proving his talent both domestically and in Europe, a series of disciplinary issues saw Balotelli share strained relations with both the Inter support, and his then coach, Jose Mourinho. This, however, did not stop his former mentor, Mancini, from bringing him to Eastlands for a reported fee of £24m. While Balotelli has shown glimpses of his undoubted talent in City colours, a hat-trick against Aston Villa showed the confidence of the young striker. However, Balotelli’s behaviour has also been called into question on several occasions; after failing with an audacious and needless back heel attempt in a pre-season friendly against LA Galaxy, the player was withdrawn by his seemingly furious manager.

With fellow City forwards Aguero and Edin Dzeko beginning the season in blistering form, the inconsistent Balotelli has seen his starting opportunities limited. With Carlos Tevez also returning to the City fold having seemingly been set to leave, the Italian has been forced to prove his worth once again, and his manager is looking to get the best out of another of his attacking talents: “I’ve been very impressed with his attitude. I’m not sure we can say he has changed in the space of four weeks but he’s worked well, even though he hasn’t played

Mancini also noted the vast number of strings Balotelli can play on in attack: “Mario can also play as a winger as well as a striker, so maybe he can have more chances if we play with Aguero, Carlos or Dzeko as our two strikers.” However, while Balotelli’s attacking threat remains an option across a variety of positions, Balotelli faces the prospect of becoming just another talent in an embarrassment of riches at City. With the strikers supported by the likes of Adam Johnson, Samir Nasri, David Silva and James Milner, Balotelli faces a struggle to earn a place in the side. However, the controversial character may be, according to his manager at least, close to turning a corner. A player of unquestionable talent, Balotelli now finds himself a part of a squad capable of challenging for honours on all fronts, already matching the performances of local rivals, Manchester United in the early exchanges of the new season. Should the player continue to apply his ability in training and continue it into matches, Balotelli could finally fulfil his sizeable potential and become one of the game’s greats.

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