Manchester City's Balotelli reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Arsenal in London

Mario Balotelli’s top moments of madness; the final Manchester City incident report


Thank goodness for a little morning spelunking into the research files on Mario Balotelli and the bizarre forces that have always ruled his head. Because I had completely forgotten about the women’s prison incident!

For pure entertainment, how awesome was this guy?

On the serious side briefly: Manchester City officials finally saw the light, belated as it was.

Balotelli was always going to be a problem and a burden. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the man-child of Manchester was always going to be a brooding figure in the City locker room, a taught trip wire ready to create destruction on the training ground or, worse yet, in a big match. Talented as the young Italian striker surely is, the club was always going to be better without him.

At the very least, City will be a more focused bunch without Balotelli’s selfish inclinations to overcome. Reports have the Italian giant paying about $31.5 million to bring Balotelli to the San Siro, where he will sign a 4 ½ -year deal pending a medical sign-off.

ProSoccerTalk’s Richard Farley smartly assessed the ins and out here.  But (running back toward the light a little) it is worth a few minutes to look back at exactly why City is a better, more stable place today.

One story I read says Balotelli’s move to AC Milan ends a “turbulent” two and a half years at the Etihad. That’s a little like saying debate between democrats and republicans sometimes gets a “little snippy.”

This piece has a few humorous details on the women’s prison bit. Classic.

This rap sheet of wackiness from the Mirror – in fairness, the Mirror’s standard of truth goes about as high as single Thin Mint cookie, but still … – likes the unconfirmed report that his mom once dispatched Balotelli to pick up some cleaning supplies.

A few hours later, Mario’s car pulled up with a van behind – which promptly unloaded a giant trampoline, two Vespa scooters and no cleaning products whatsoever…”

She raised the kid; she’s presumably seen worse. Quite possibly on a weekly basis.

Those are the incidents that lean toward the wacky, but there were other moments where a truly darker element emerged, like his awful, potentially devastating tackle on Alex Song last spring.

The really crazy thing is this: the lists above were cobbled together at some point last year. Of Because Balotelli is nothing if not reliable, there have been additions since then, like the training ground scuffle with Mancini earlier this month.

The other crazy thing: these lists don’t share as many incidents as you might think. You see, when it comes to Mario Balotelli Moments of Madness, there’s a menu of choices that would make the freakin’ Cheesecake Factory blush.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.