It is a month shy of Mario Balotelli completing a calendar year in Red. Arriving as a fall back option for Alexis Sanchez, it's difficult to come up with a more polarizing Liverpool player in recent memory. Which is ironic, because for the majority of the time that Balotelli has suited up under Brendan Rodgers, he's not proven to be the locker room-splitting, lightning rod character that he is billed as being.
He's underperformed, or performed pretty well, depending on the game situation and who you talk to. Mostly, he's been quiet and boring. Of course, that doesn't stop actual football professionals, like honorary president of A.S.D Luca Castelli Romani Marco Amelia, from gnawing on the final, days old bit of gristle from this particular bone of narrative.
Various outfits have picked up a set of quotes delivered to Sky Sport Italia by Mr. Amelia wherein he describes his club's desire to bid for the Italian international, and - get this - give him an opportunity to purify himself.
"For him it could be the first step towards that purification. By taking two steps back, he could show to everyone what he’s really made of."
Those two steps he's talking about? That's two steps away from the Italian top flight, ie the Lega Pro, where Luca Castelli will be playing this season. But the inherent indignity doesn't stop there! Apparently, Balotelli is not only in need purification, he has lost his desire to play the game:
"I think at this moment Mario needs to rediscover the hunger he once had. It’ll be tough, some say impossible and certainly unheard of in football, but it could do him good."
Never mind the fact that Luca Castelli play at a level of football that would never be considered by a 25 year old who is a year removed from starring for his country in the World Cup. Never mind that this club was founded two seasons ago, plays in a 5,000 seat capacity stadium, and is chaired by a guy who wears velour polos to work. What's important here is that clearly Amelia hasn't been paying attention to the player he's decided to spend quite a lot of money on.
Balotelli is not in the doldrums of his career. He's an exceedingly talented, well paid forward for one of the biggest clubs on the planet, and he's in his prime athletic years. He's coming off a season that was undeniably disappointing, but also contained important moments of brilliance on the pitch, and a steady head off it - neither of which he gets enough credit for.
Liverpool should keep this player as a piece of their 2015-16 attacking puzzle, and Balotelli himself should laugh off this ham-fisted attempt at propagating one of the most tired narratives in the game.