Mario Balotelli is on the verge of a shock return to Premier League with Newcastle set to bring the Italian striker back to England after almost four years away.
According to reports in The Mirror, the fiery Italian is wanted by Rafa Benitez to boost a Newcastle attack that has only mustered 15 goals in 21 games.
Balotelli has fallen out of favour with Nice manager Patrick Vieira, to the extent he’s been told to train away from the first team. It’s yet another turn in what has been one of the most rollercoaster careers in modern football.
Having come to Premier League with Man City in 2010, Balotelli was never far from the headlines while in England. From the highs of supplying Aguero for perhaps “the” moment of the Premier League era(“Aguuuueeerrrroooo”), to his “Why always me?” t-shirt after fireworks on and off the pitch versus Man Utd, to the bizarre tales of handing out presents on Christmas around Manchester – to name but a few – Balotelli is a player who brings as much baggage off the field, as talent on it.
Yet Rafa is apparently willing to look past these antics to the player Balotelli can be.
And what a player! At his best, Balotelli is a Rolls-Royce of a striker, both silky smooth and supremely powerful at the same time. On his day, he’s up there with the most talented of frontmen in world football.
Would he reign in the hi-jinks if he arrived on Tyneside? Don’t bet on it. But if he bags the Magpies enough goals to keep them in the Premier League, the Geordie fans won’t care one jot.