The injury madness continues. Mario Balotelli joins two other loanees on the treatment table after a specialist discovered a hernia. The Italian international striker is currently on loan at AC Milan in a bid to resurrect his career as one of the most highly-regarded attacking talents on the continent and possibly win a place in Italy's Euro 2016 squad.
The 25-year-old has produced promising performances in the two starts and two substitute league appearances that have amounted to 228 minutes in Serie A this season. His time on the pitch has been restricted by a pesky groin complaint. After seeing a Danish specialist, a hernia has been detected which must be operated on. The Liverpool Echo report that another three months of recovery must pass before Balotelli can return to action.
Balotelli hasn't played since September, and with no forced purchase clause in his loan contract, he'll need to do even more to convince Berlusconi, Galliani, and company to buy him. Whether the striker was treated badly by Brendan Rodgers or not last season, this represents another setback for a striker who is at a stage where he needs a regular run of games. There's still plenty left in the career of a player who hasn't put much mileage on his clock over the last year or so, but this is traditonal striking prime time.
This injury doesn't mean that Balotelli cannot triumphantly return in February or March with goals and performances that win the hearts of AC Milan fans and earn a recall to the national team. Football is unpredictable, and sometimes struggles lay ahead for others that enable today's unfortunate souls to profit tomorrow. Liverpool may have to face the possibility, however, that Balotelli may return to the club next summer. Would another loan be in order to remove or drastically reduce the club's commitment to paying his wages be acceptable enough for a £16 million investment?
Hopefully the player's surgery and subsequent recovery will prove to be as uncomplicated and swift as possible. There's a talented player who must be motivated to bounce back from a difficult 18 months that includes being made a national team scapegoat, targeted for racism (nothing new there), recent injuries, and moving to yet another club where it all went wrong. Get well soon Super Mario and prove the doubters wrong. In the process, maybe Liverpool can find a solution that will benefit all parties.
For now, only recovery should be on Balotelli's agenda.