02 June 2014

Boffo bid for Balotelli as Arsenal raid the Rossonieri!

Once bitten, twice shy, says I. I was wrong with Luis Suarez (twice bitten, to be honest), predicting that he would again implode under the pressure of leading Liverpool towards the top of the Prem. Having learned my lesson, I'm not quite ready to apologize, but I am ready to make amends, and so we come to Mario "Why always me?" Balotelli. If the likes of Mourinho or Mancini can't tame in, couldn't Arsène? He's done it with other malcontents and ne'er-do-wells like van Persie and Anelka. Amidst rumours that we've offered up to £30m for Super Mario, we might as well set our faces to stunned.

Let's set aside this feudin' and a-fussin' and get down to some lovin'!
Arsène is, of course, a long-time admirer of the tempestous 'talian (sorry), having said "I am keeping an eye out for Balotelli, a player I like very much. In my vie, he can be one of the best". That was back in 2009, but even then Arsène's media-filter was already set to the finest of colander-like settings. For him to come out that boldly, admitting flat-out that he has been "keeping an eye out", feels like a tacit admission that we might actually be after the man-child. After all his travails and sojourns, it's easy to forget that he is, after all, only 23. Could we chalk up many of his trangressions to the same kind of stupidity that you and I were (or may soon be) guilty of? I'm pretty sure that I have a few skeletons from my early twenties that I'd prefer to keep in the closet.

As for Balotelli, let's keep in mind who he's worked for. At Inter, Mourinho labeled him "unmanageable", which in Mourinho-uese translates to "an ego even bigger than mine." Suffice to say, Mourinho does not tolerate such sins, and his management of Mario was more iron-fist than it was velvet glove. To say that the man lacked the maturity required to handle the situation would confuse the issue, as we would then have to wonder who the man in question was—was it Mourinho who lacked maturity, or was it Mario? Enquiring minds want to know.

From there, of course, he went on to Man City under Mancini, a manager who once threatened to punch the lad in the head once a day (which is not to say that it was undeserved). Fault Mancini for his many faults; he at least had the audacity to say the following:
If Mario is not one of the best players in the world it will be his fault, because he has everything. Mario can be one of the top players in Europe.
What Mancini lacks in self-awareness he more than makes up for in accuracy. Shouldn't he realize that his role as a manager is to help a player of Balotelli's talent actually become one of the best players in Europe instead of blaming and accusing him of falling short of such a destiny? For as scintillating as Balotelli as often been, he's just as often been a maddening, divisive figure. How much of that comes down to mismanagement? Neither Mourinho nor Mancini is knowned for his subtlety or bedside manner. What might Mario achieve under the tutelage of a father-figure like Arsène?

If Arsène can bring out the best in Balotelli, we could just see the emergence of one of the finest strikers in Europe. He knows what it means to play in the Prem. He may not know what it means to be managed, to be mentored. For all of his off-pitch exploits, a move to Arsenal might give him a chance to plumb the depths of his potential. He's not the first player who's struggled to adapt to the sudden pressures of wealth and stardom after a childhood of uncertainty and strife. It seems as if Balotelli has sought someone who could steer him in the direction that his talent beckons, nay, begs him to go. Clearly, it wasn't Mourinho, nor was it Mancini or any of the various caretakers at AC Milan.

As we seek an upgrade at striker, we might do better than to sign Balotelli, but it would be hard to do worse. His upside is enormous; for as much dynamite as he's delivered, it simply scratches the surface of what he can do. For as much aggravation as he's offered, it simply begs the question of who has managed him. Under Arsène, we could very well see a resurgence, if not a resurrection, and not just of a player's career, but of a club's. Why not?

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