12 months on, Mario Balotelli is back in an AC Milan jersey and it finally seems like he’s entered the “last chance saloon” in his crazy career.
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On Thursday Balotelli, 25, joined Milan from Liverpool on a season-long loan deal and the Italian forward has accepted an incredibly restrictive “good behavior” clause in his contract which bans him from such things as “extravagant haircuts,” going to nightclubs and insists he must limit alcohol consumption among many other things.
The man known as “Super Mario” knows he is entering a pivotal stage in his career and he calls this “the second half” as he returns to Milan for the second time after having previous spells at Internazionale, Manchester City and his ill-fated time at Anfield which yielded just four goals in 28 games.
Speaking to Gazzetta Dello Sport, Balotelli was reflective on his return to the San Siro.
“I have played and lived as a boy,” Balotelli said. “Now I will live and play as a man. I know that many do not believe in me, but I have a duty to try and to make sure I succeed. The past must be remembered to avoid making the same mistakes, but the future cannot be viewed through a rear view mirror. The time has come to turn a page and look forward. Things haven’t gone well. I have wasted several opportunities. But the game is not over… I still have a second chance.”
Although he accepted his time at Liverpool was a “mess” Balotelli also pointed the finger at Brendan Rodgers and the way he set up his forward line.
“I must accept my faults but the formation chosen by Rodgers was not suited to my characteristics,” Balotelli said. “At the beginning I missed several easy chances, then I had fewer chances to score, a bit of bad luck, injuries. A mess of things.”
He also defended his behavior with the Reds and claimed he was professional during his time back in the Premier League at Liverpool. So, will Balotelli grab this second chance to shine back in Serie A with both hands and change his ways?
He has devised a plan to get back into the Italian national team under Antonio Conte and make the squad for the 2016 European Championships next summer. If Balo is serious about cleaning up his act, it must happen now or his sublime talent will be wasted at the expense of his eccentric temperament.