After an unsuccessful season spent on Merseyside, Mario Balotelli has returned to AC Milan on a season-long loan. With his medical complete, the striker now officially returns to the club he left last summer for the Reds in a £16M deal—but he's had to agree to sign a code of conduct with the Serie A giants to get even this short-term deal done.
Balotelli, now 25 years of age, arrived at Liverpool from Milan for £16M last summer. He rarely looked comfortable in the role asked of him, and in the end managed a mere four goals in 28 appearances across all competitions in a year to forget for both player and club. A questionable transfer target from the beginning, it didn’t help that Liverpool rarely played to his strengths.
He never looked comfortable played as a lone striker, a man in need of a more natural number nine to play off of. He dropped deep when he should have been stretching the opposition and providing room for Liverpool’s midfielders to work in; he checked back when he needed to make a back-post run; he tracked back on defence but left a void up top. Even when he tried things didn’t come off.
Despite that, and at least compared to some of the previous stops in his career, it would be hard to say he behaved badly or was a damaging influence—even if that hasn’t stopped some trying to further the Balotelli as bad seed narrative to explain why he didn’t work out. And it hasn't stopped Milan making him agree to a code of conduct before they would bring him back into the fold.
According to Gazetta dello Sport, Balotelli has signed an agreement to:
- Tone down his "extravagant hairstyles"
- To only wear clothes "in keeping with the style of a club like Milan"
- To entirely stop smoking and not visit any nightclubs
- And to always show up on time for training
With that out of the way, Balotelli returns to a Milan side he arrived at in January of 2013 from Manchester City. In a season and a half with them, he scored 30 goals in 54 appearances before falling out of favour. Milan are now on their second new manager since Balotelli was sold last summer.
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