After his hopes of leaving French Ligue 1 side OGC Nice dashed in the summer, Mario Balotelli’s season has taken another hit following a controversial fallout with manager Patrick Vieira on the touchline in Sunday’s 0-0 stalemate at Guingamp.
Vieira made Balotelli the subject of his third substitution after 75 minutes when he decided to reshuffle his attack in search of that elusive goal which the Italian failed to provide as he looked disinterested and peripheral throughout the encounter.
However, the Italian striker didn’t take kindly to being replaced, refusing first to shake his manager’s hand before he angrily confronted him on the touchline, calling him names.
Yet this morning the 28-year old has been on the receiving end of stern criticism by Italy coach Roberto Mancini: “I am sorry to see Balotelli waste his talent the way he does, I think he can keep people entertained by scoring goals. Time passes quickly so he must take the opportunities he has”, he said in an interview with Goal.com.
The 54-year old leaped time and again to Balotelli’s defence during his troublesome career and is probably the last manager in the game who still holds hope that he can turn a corner.
Paradoxically even Mancini now seems to concede defeat and the fact that he decided to leave him out for Italy’s recent showdowns against Portugal and the USA reflects this evidence.
Mario Balotelli visibly cursed manager Patrick Vieira after being hauled off 75 minutes into tonight’s match vs. Guingamp – player hasn’t scored this season, we are 15 games in.
— Nana Mobb (@nanamobb) December 2, 2018
To compound matters for Balotelli, his former mentor preferred calling up the inexperienced and unproven Mister Nobody Kevin Lasagna instead.
Yet, Balotelli’s omission was more down to the fact that he has struggled for form this season with his goalscoring instincts letting him down but given that Vieira used to play under Mancini, the pair might have exchanged a word or two about the player’s lack of dedication and determination during training sessions.
This season the former Inter Milan, Manchester City, AC Milan and Liverpool frontman has yet to find the back of the net, having failed to score a single goal in nine outings with the French Riviera club.
When Balotelli first burst onto the scene at Inter Milan a decade ago, the nation’s hopes were pinned on him but a succession of poor showings and off-the-pitch antics have seen his career derail beyond recognition.
In recent interviews, Balotelli spoke incessantly of his yearn for the Squadra Azzurra, but Saturday’s episode and Mancini’s public reprimand will arguably not help his case.
Having seemingly grown tired of French football, he had pushed through a move away in the summer hoping that clubs from Serie A and the Premier League would line up an enticing offer, but that didn’t materialise due to his high wage demands and a poor disciplinary record, which further deteriorated on Saturday.
Balotelli’s contract is due to expire in June when he is able to leave for free and command huge wages.
Yet, who wants to take the plunge on a striker who is not scoring goals and regularly oversteps the mark?