'As soon as I got the chance, I ran to Milan': Mario Balotelli arrives in Italy to complete AC Milan switch

What will the Italy striker bring to Serie A after completing his move from Manchester City?

Mario Balotelli was greeted with open arms at Milan’s Malpensa airport today. The 22-year-old returned to his native Italy following an eventful spell with Manchester City, in which he divided opinion and never truly fulfilled his potential. AC Milan welcome a player who can greatly benefit their hunt for a place in the Champions League, but only several days ago a switch to the peninsula looked virtually impossible.

The Rossoneri have pushed for youthful renewal throughout the January transfer window, with several fresh-faced targets set out. However, Vice-President Adriano Galliani continued to pursue Kaká and Didier Drogba. The Real Madrid playmaker looked to be the realistic option, but a return for the Brazilian soon fell by the wayside due to “fiscal reasons” – and the hunt for Balotelli opened up once more.

The credentials of the striker’s agent Mino Raiola have never been doubted in Italy. The former restaurateur brokered several transfers for Zlatan Ibrahimović for compromised prices, and is unanimously loved by his clients and loathed by club directors for his methods. The agent acted as a delegate for the outfit, and knocked the Citizen’s asking price in half in the space of two weeks.

Following several days of deadlock in which City refused to budge from the €25m mark, an agreement was struck overnight on Monday. Milan will pay €20m and additional bonuses surmounting to €3m for Balotelli, with the player signing a contract until 2017 with the Serie A giants. The Brescia native also had to make sacrifices to join his boyhood club, and looks set to take a significant paycut.

“As soon as I got the chance, I ran to Milan,” admitted Balotelli ahead of his medical in Busto Arsizio. The striker has always been a supporter of the club, and was pictured wearing their colours on several occasions while under contract with city rivals Internazionale. “He wore black and red socks to training,” revealed former teammate Marco Materazzi. “I would personally cut them in half every time!” 

Milan currently hover in fifth and directly behind Inter, but have sliced the gap between themselves and the Champions League places in half with a quiet resurgence of late. Manager Massimiliano Allegri has settled on a concrete system, after his tinkering earlier in the campaign cost them dearly. The San Siro residents have only picked up one defeat in their last 10 games in Serie A as a result.  

Balotelli has only netted once for Roberto Mancini’s side throughout the current campaign, and has often times been relegated to the bench. Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tévez have been the preferred partnership, while Edin Džeko has been the alternative option. His breathtaking performances for the Italian national team at the European Championships in June have not been showcased since.

The argument for Milan’s end is that with consistent playing time Balotelli will return to his heights, and hopefully settle his problematic personal life too. Cesare Prandelli managed to get the best out of him in the summer, and although Mancini has been refereed to as his preferred boss their relationship has been complicated at best. Allegri may just have the right attitude to reinvigorate him.  

However, the arrival of Balotelli may cause the Tuscan tactician several unnecessary headaches. The forward trio of Stephan El Shaarawy, Giampaolo Pazzini and M’Baye Niang has been in devastating form of late. El Shaarawy is presently the club’s top goal scorer and assist provider domestically, while Niang has been a revelation on the right wing in recent weeks with his direct edge.

The former Inter man would therefore be taking the place of central striker Pazzini, who has scored three goals in as many games since the return of action following the winter break. Furthermore, the Atalanta product was “promised” that another attacker would not be purchased in January to facilitate his presence upfront. Balotelli may also have to contend with inconsistent performers Bojan Krkić and Robinho.

The Rossoneri faithful will be satisfied that the management have ultimately stuck to their guns with the youth project, despite the fact signing a defender should have been a bigger priority. Balotelli no longer has any excuses for his erratic displays, and must perform, not only to justify the hype that has surrounded him since an unsuccessful trial for Barcelona in 2006, but also to carry his beloved club.

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence