‘Champion’ Balotelli vital to Milan’s future

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Mario Balotelli AC Milan woeGettyImagesMario Balotelli may be an enigma, but he is AC Milan's enigma and the Rossoneri must keep him.

Since events in Naples last weekend, Mario Balotelli has been a popular figure in the media for a variety of reasons. The Italian international’s tears came first after a personally emotional week, before speculation of interest from England preceded an exclusive interview in which he revealed a great deal about his character both on and off the pitch.

In his prematch news conference ahead of Friday’s encounter with Bologna, Milan coach Clarence Seedorf revealed his belief that Balotelli "isn’t a champion yet." While that statement may well be true despite the 23-year-old’s already impressive trophy collection, it is hoped that the influential striker becomes one with the Rossoneri.

Transfer speculation suggests that the, at times, troubled star requires "rescuing." A newly formed partnership between Arsenal and sponsors Puma is apparently set to give grounds to collusion in generating the transfer fee required to take Balotelli to London.

In addition, agent Mino Raiola has reportedly already held talks with the Premier League club, but until Balotelli himself states that his wish is to leave Milan, the assumption from previous comments and actions from the player himself is that he is still dedicated to helping his childhood club succeed.

Is Seedorf’s assessment correct? Yes. Balotelli has yet to reach his full potential, and for reasons unknown to most of us he continues to lack that consistency despite yearning to be one of the best footballers in the world.

Nevertheless, Seedorf insists that he is convinced his star striker will become a champion “sooner or later” as a result of his desire, but that opens up the question as to whether or not he will still be at the San Siro.

Aside from his initial few months at the club, there has always been a nervy possibility of Balotelli leaving Milan at some stage. He claims that the only thing he misses in England is the Manchester City supporters, but also insists that Milan’s supporters are just as good.

However, considering Balotelli’s occasional difficulties on the pitch coupled with the restrictive nature of the club’s financial position, there is uneasiness over a potential sale being a solution that is readily available, much like the situation with Stephen El Shaarawy last year.

Furthermore, what if Milan are unable to match his ambitions as Seedorf continues to acclimatise to life as a coach and struggles next season? Granted, no player is bigger than the club, but for a player who is arguably the face of Milan and its future, it would be a heavy blow to lose him particularly given he is still so young.

A focused and committed Balotelli is a player who can lead Milan towards a new cycle of success, and unfortunately his lethargic approach in some games is part of the package.

There are few players in the world who possess the talent he has and the ability to be a match-winner, and perhaps for the first time the Italian media is showing signs of concern as opposed to picking out faults in his life, whether they are related to football or not.

Balotelli will in all probability split opinion for the rest of his time in football, but it is important that both Seedorf and the Rossoneri protect and work with him as they rebuild. Eventually he will appreciate his full talent and mature into a "champion," it is just hoped that he is still wearing the red and black of Milan when it happens.

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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