Michael Day: Could Mario Balotelli's arrival at AC Milan swing it for Silvio Berlusconi?
Striker joined from Manchester City in £19m deal
Silvio Berlusconi's decision to purchase Mario Balotelli for Milan could buy him two percentage points in the opinion polls as the mogul prepares for a general election this month in football-mad Italy.
Pundits say that signing the high-profile striker could swing the vote in the key region of Lombardy, Milan's base. The leading daily paper Corriere Della Sera said the Balotelli purchase could be worth 200,000 votes in a region that could "prove decisive in providing a majority in the Senate".
Evidence of the mounting excitement in Milan came on Wednesday night when scuffles broke out after a big crowd gathered at the restaurant where Balotelli was dining, causing police to intervene with tear gas.
It's unlikely to have escaped the cunning media mogul's notice that on the very day of the election, 24 February, Balotelli will stride out onto the pitch for the Milan–Internazionale derby.
The president of Inter, Massimo Moratti, told journalists: "Balotelli at Milan? It's their business. It's a good buy. I see this as something useful for Berlusconi in thousands of ways and we'll see how it ends up."
Lending weight to the charge of cynicism against Berlusconi, just a month ago the ex-premier was referring to the temperamental striker as "a bad apple".
But Berlusconi told the TG3 news programme on Wednesday evening that the purchase was for "technical motives for the club". "Balotelli is not an investment for the election campaign," he added.
Renato Mannheimer, a leading pollster, was unconvinced. "There's a Milan-supporting public that no one's ever studied but it exists and it might very grateful to Berlusconi for the new acquisition," he said. "Perhaps a large number of people who are currently undecided will now choose to vote."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal have 'too many strikers' claims Arsene Wenger, despite admitting Lukas Podolski is 'not a real centre-forward'
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger says he will be 'actively involved' on deadline day... but may not buy a striker despite Giroud injury
Fernando Torres to AC Milan: Jose Mourinho talks up Mattia Destro with Torres on verge of Chelsea exit
Mario Balotelli has been 'spoken to at length' and Liverpool have ensured he lives on Merseyside rather than Manchester
Burnley vs Manchester United: Why Louis van Gaal has been unflustered by United's terrible start to the season
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 5 Medina: Saudis take a bulldozer to Islam's history
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage