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Is Football better off with more players like Mario Balotelli?

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Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League

Disclaimer: The views reflected in this article are of the author and not necessarily that of Sportskeeda.

There are a lot of debatable questions in the world today that still wait for a definitive answer. How did the universe originate? Is time-travel possible? Will Fernando Torres ever get his form back? Will Mascherano stop scoring own-goals? But yet, the toughest of them remains – Why always Balotelli?

Such is the droll nature of his acts that it springs a surprise when you don’t see his name in the newspapers the following day.

On the eventful day which brought humiliation to the red half of Manchester and left the United fans seeking revenge, the headlines were once again reserved for the eccentric Balotelli. The only image that papers all around the world could find fitting for the 6-1 derby win for City was an expressionless Balotelli who, after calmly putting the ball in the bottom corner of de Gea’s net, had the audacity of broadcasting a message, or rather a question to the footballing world,”WHY ALWAYS ME?”.

It only comes as a surprise to think as to why this man hasn’t commissioned a statue for himself – a statue of him flexing all his muscles out and not showing a hint of joy inspite of putting his team 2-0 up against tournament favourites Germany in the Euro 2012.

The footballing world has had its fair share of show-ponies and eccentric characters, but Mario seems to be right there on the top. Why? Here’s why:

- Returning a bullied child to his classroom and telling off the bullies in the middle of the class.

- Throwing darts at the Manchester City Youth team from a first floor window.

- Setting his house on fire because he lit fireworks inside his own house.

- Getting into a horrific car accident after his girlfriend learned he’d had been cheating on her, with the same former call girl who had allegedly had an affair with Wayne Rooney.

With those instances having held significance in Mario Balotelli‘s timeline, a statue of himself seems sober, doesn’t it?

Basically, Mario Balotelli is in the ‘Tyson Zone’.

To quote Bill Simmons, “The Tyson Zone is the status an athlete or celebrity reaches when his or her behaviour becomes so outrageous that one would believe any story or anecdote about the person, no matter how shocking or bizarre”.

Leaving all the dart-throwing, car-accident, firework-gimmicks aside, how good is this for football?

Footballers that emerge from the fortresses of the La Masia and Carrington have been inculcated with the conception of ‘early-to-bed-early to rise’ and disciplined scholars of a game that demand respect, love and patience. Mario Balotelli is the daredevil of the current generation of footballers, just like Cantona of the 1990′s and Paul Gascoigne of the 80′s. Football isn’t devoid of controversy, and you get that premonition with players like Mario involved. Talent has shadowed Mario in all his footballing exploits – he most definitely is a great player with the ball at his feet – but his eccentric nature makes us forget about his on-field contributions. Scientifically, if we were to look straight, we’d see Mario’s footballing skills and nothing else; his controversial acts, having formed a concave lens, diverge our view and change our opinion about this naturalized Italian.

Egos in football have always clashed, and that perhaps explains his numerous bouts with managers. But he very closely represents the youth of this generation. With old, experienced players hanging up their boots after a stellar career, the question remains, is it right to hand the baton to the generation to follow? Commitment, loyalty and a few more superlatives seem far-fetched for the footballers of today. With branding, commercialisation being at its peak, the amount of money involved is crazy. In his time at Manchester City, though quite short, Mario changed his hairstyle more often than he scored goals. Again, that euphoria to earn more money acted as a catalyst for his move to the Eastlands. A bad decision? You decide.

What’s in store for us fans in the near future? We’ll never know. But with footballers like Mario Balotelli, who seem ordinarily naive, expect the unexpected. I, for one, would like to believe that we shall see a more interesting era of footballers, all taking their lead from the one and only, Mario Balotelli.


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