Over the summer months it seemed as though Mario Balotelli’s career had hit a brick wall.
Told to train with Liverpool’s youth players and find himself a new club by manager Jurgen Klopp, the maverick Italian striker wasn’t wanted around the first-team squad.
— Goal (@goal) October 5, 2016
Leading European clubs weren’t exactly lining up to sign a player once described as unmanageable by Jose Mourinho.
Turkish side Besiktas and Sassuolo from Italy’s Serie A were two of the clubs that distanced themselves from signing Balotelli.
The striker’s high wage demands, as well as what he got up to off the pitch, meant that the former Manchester City striker was seen as a risk not worth taking.
Then, on deadline day, when it seemed that Liverpool would be stuck with Balotelli for at least another six months, the club announced that he had joined Ligue 1 outfit OGC Nice on a permanent deal.
Since then, the 26-year-old has looked like a player reborn.
Balotelli has propelled the unfancied French side to the top of the league table, with five goals to his name – his most recent, a stunning 86th minute winner.
— OGC Nice (@ogcnice) October 2, 2016
The tempestuous attacker only needs to look at fellow flawed genius Haten Ben Arfa for inspiration.
One of the most naturally talented players of his generation, the Frenchman struggled to find consistency and was often left out of matchday squads.
After joining Nice last season he produced the best football of his career, scoring 18 goals in 35 appearances and attracting interest from a host of major European sides before joining French giants Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
Balotelli’s natural talent has never been doubted, yet his indifferent attitude and lack of work-rate has seen him leave prestigious clubs, such as Inter Milan, Manchester City and AC Milan, on a bad note.
If he can keep up his early-season form, a recall to the Italian national team is surely on the horizon. Perhaps this is finally the season when Balotelli will fulfil his potential and make headlines for what he does on the pitch, rather than off it.