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Five Reasons Why We'll Miss Mario Balotelli

Life at Manchester City has become like a soap opera in recent years and Balotelli's relationship with his manager has become one of the most intriguing storylines in the history of the Premier League.

Roberto Mancini will bid an emotional farewell to Mario Balotelli this week when the Premier League's most controversial player completes a move to AC Milan.

Mancini's patience with the superstar's antics on and off the pitch seems to have come to an end but Balotelli will leave English football with his cult status firmly intact.

The Italian striker has grabbed more column inches than goals in recent months but his charming blend of nonchalance and volatility will be sorely missed and there are five reasons we'll fondly remember the player who famously asked, "why always me?"

1) Never a dull game with Mario

Balotelli's much-publicised career has been plagued by ill-discipline on the pitch and for all his extreme talent the 22-year-old has attracted the majority of his headlines for anything but acts of footballing brilliance.

The player missed eleven games through suspension in 2011/12 and when he was on the pitch he looked as utterly disinterested as he did explosive. There can be few players in the history of the game for whom the word 'hothead' is more fitting and the maestro appeared to drift from one bone-headed contribution to another throughout his time at Manchester City. It was these contributions that left pundits increasingly frustrated - but they were undoubtedly an entertaining aspect of his games.

His individualism meant that he warranted no place in a serious football team but his presence on the team sheet alone could sell tickets and the striker will remain a box office lure wherever he lines up.

2) His relationship with Roberto Mancini

Life at Manchester City has become like a soap opera in recent years and Balotelli's relationship with his manager has become one of the most intriguing storylines in the history of the Premier League.

The duo's on-going drama has been like a double act and press conferences and football matches all over the world have been the stage on which their love-hate relationship has rapidly developed.

Mancini once told his signing that "If you played with me, ten years ago, I give to you every day one punch in your head!" That is almost what the manager had to do when the pair came to blows at training earlier this month and their clash was a result of the growing frustration between mentor and mentored.

No manager has ever been sad to see the back of Balotelli, but on Wednesday Mancini spoke of his 'love' for the Italian and admitted that he would miss him after his move to Milan. His new coach Massimiliano Allegri will now be given the opportunity to man manage one of the maddest men in football and a player Jose Mourinho considers to be unmanageable.

3) Mad Mario's off the pitch antics

When Balotelli revealed his "why always me?" t-shirt 36 hours after fleeing his smoke-damaged luxury mansion in Mottram, you couldn't help but admire a statement of such ironic proportions. It was certainly a swift move from a man that witnessed his friend set a firework off inside his bathroom just hours before the Manchester derby.

Balotelli's off the field antics appear to have been far less appreciated here than in Italy and the player has been indignant about his characterisation in the British press. He believes that he is portrayed as a liability and a constant source of frustration, but the reality is that the press have become obsessed with his kamikaze behaviour and he heads back to Italy as a celebrity in both countries.

Whether he was throwing darts at youth team players, writing off his Audi R8 supercar or handing out cash to the homeless, Balotelli's stories made for compulsive reading regardless of whether they were fact or fiction.

4) His hilarious quotes

When Mancini admitted he would like to give his striker a punch, Balotelli simply responded by saying, "he couldn't. I do Thai kick-boxing."

It was symptomatic of the playful humour that has made the Italian such a hit with his fans and at times it was inconceivable that a player of such immaturity was capable of such humorous comments.

Aside from claiming he had no clue who Jack Wilshere was and when he wasn't telling reporters Lionel Messi was the only player who could rival him in world football, Balotelli's long list of quotes have had football fans in hysterics and his press conferences have become the hottest ticket in football.

5) Balotelli can play...

The enigma of Balotelli is that while his temperament and attitude are constantly under scrutiny, he remains a prodigiously talented player and he is capable of moments of breathtaking brilliance.

Blessed with pace, fantastic feet and overwhelming physical strength, Balotelli has made world class defenders look average at times in his career and he possesses everything you'd want from a striker.

Those that have worked with him have always agreed that he could potentially be one of the best in the world and his touch of class is almost reminiscent of Eric Cantona. Even the way Balotelli took penalties was enough to stir the blood at the Etihad.

His followers will now hope that the emotional draw of Italy will help the superstar settle and deliver on his formidable talent. There is every reason to believe that could be the case, but whether or not Balotelli can reach the top will depend on whether or not he continues to exist in his bizarrely constructed world.

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