The case of breaking down a footballer’s ups-and-downs in form is one surrounded by mystery. While well-versed statisticians will tell you it’s predictable with in-depth statistics and whatnot, it’s very much dependent on luck and what, you know, fate holds for someone.
In Mario Balotelli’s particular matter, there are more people who’ve given up on him than there are those who hold any level of belief in his abilities. Over the years, the numbers for the former classification has increased tremendously; the Italian scored two goals in both his previous two seasons combined. His decline has been steadfast. But, it has also had a noticeable amount of correlation with the striker’s move to Liverpool. Perhaps Mino Raiola isn’t that brilliant after all.
Liverpool had already brought in Divock Origi and Rickie Lambert—all contenders for a forward position—in addition to the oft injured striker Daniel Sturridge. How Super Mario thought he was going to be the recipient of a significant number of minutes, even with that sheer volume that the Reds had in the striking department, left many bemused. Though to all those remaining, it seemed very much like an ultimatum. No one for a second doubted Mario’s ability to overtake the others in the pecking order. Whether he’d put the work in to do it, however, was a matter out of everybody’s hands—except the man himself.
The Italian could’ve been the perfect, if perhaps a bit fantasized, successor to continue Luis Suarez’s exploits from the 2013/14 season, when the Reds almost won the title.
Alas, it was not to be.
The downhill ride was much steeper than expected for Balotelli, and it ended this past summer when the striker was ushered out by Jürgen Klopp due to a differential in, well, something (probably everything). OGC Nice welcomed Mario with open arms, the same way they had welcomed Hatem Ben Arfa in the summer of 2015/16.
The latter Frenchman, 29, now plays for PSG after a phenomenal debut season with Nice. Also a victim of being overly gifted in football, Ben Arfa is a similar character to Balotelli. The only difference between the two, possibly, is in the ceiling that each of them is able to reach; both Balotelli and Ben Arfa are contradicting figures in the media, they both possess ginormous egos, and Balotelli is also on a one-year contract, the same as Ben Arfa when he was at Nice. A second chance—that’s what they’re calling it.
Balotelli has gotten off to a bright start, scoring 5 goals in a mere 3 appearances so far in Ligue 1, and he’s on course to complete a fight-back against his haters if he continues on like this.
In essence, you may have never heard of Nice before reading this piece today. But, this small club in the southern coast of France might just revive the career of one of the most infamous talents in world football.