There is an old italian proverb - "una rondine non fa primavera" or, roughly translated, "one swallow does not a springtime make" - that counsels against the error of drawing a general conclusion from an isolated incident. It also happens to be an apt reminder of why Serie A club AC Milan are adopting a cautious approach in the ongoing "should-he-stay-or-should-he-go" saga around Mario Balotelli, who is currently on loan from Liverpool.
Higher-ups at AC Milan have recently suggested that there has been a visible shift in Balotelli's attitude and effort. Chief executive Adriano Galliani observed that he was "almost moved" by Balotelli's tracking back during their match against Sampdoria, which is either an indication that AC Milan are genuinely keeping an open mind about the player or that Galliani is trying to win an award for best achievement in damning-with-faint-praise. If the sentiments are genuine, it won't be the first time a club has wrestled with the question of whether the Balotelli they see will be the Balotelli they get.
According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, AC Milan increasingly "believes" in their striker, and have taken the step of arranging a meeting with Liverpool, which will take place following the conclusion of the regular season. The player himself has voiced his preference, on more than one occasion, for staying in Italy, stating that he was never really happy at Liverpool and doesn't want to return to Anfield.
That latter outcome was never really going to happen, given the complete lack of enthusiasm for that scenario from all the relevant parties. The only question was where Balotelli would end up, and who would be picking up the bill/check/tab/conto. It had appeared, until recently, that AC Milan had lost any interest in keeping Balotelli, leaving almost no viable suitors outside of the Chinese Super League. If the reports from Italy are accurate, however, the door to the Serie A may not be completely closed.
Much will turn on the player's performances between now and the purported meeting with Liverpool. There are three matches remaining in the Serie A campaign, plus one Coppa Italia final, in which Balotelli might feature and in which he could make a strong case for staying. Finances, particularly the question of Balotelli's wages, may still prove to be a stumbling block, and will test the extent to which Milan have regained faith in their former player. Liverpool have probably resigned themselves to the fact that they will not recoup their investment in bringing Balotelli to Anfield, but a few more moments of magic from Super Mario might just convince AC Milan to make an offer that Liverpool can live with.