Manchester United manager José Mourinho has reportedly met with Liverpool outcast Mario Balotelli in a bid to advise his former player on how to restart his flagging career.
Rather than discussing a potential move from Merseyside to Old Trafford, Mourinho, who managed the 26-year-old Italian at Inter Milan, was contacted by the player or his representatives in order to seek advice on his options and future.
According to Italian news outlet Calciomercato, Balotelli has been reaching out to a number of his former managers as he bids to clean up his image enough to secure a transfer away from Liverpool.
Following a big money move to Manchester City in 2010, controversy has shadowed the talented striker ever since. Questionable behaviour and ill-discipline dogged the Italian throughout his time in Manchester and while he started brightly, contributing 30 goals in 80 appearances, his antics saw his form dip and he was shipped off to AC Milan in 2013.
Two seasons back in Italy saw him recover his goal scoring touch; however, the Milan side decided to offload the forward to Liverpool in 2014. Since that time Balotelli has featured sparingly and was once again sent to Italy on loan as he failed to settle at Merseyside.
Now back at Anfield and seemingly surplus to requirements, the Italy international finds himself out of favour and unable to secure a move away. Meeting with former managers, including Mourinho, is seen as a last ditch effort to rehabilitate his career.
According to Calciomercato, Mourinho’s advice was simple and obvious. He must change his attitude if he wants to find success again.
The decline of Mario Balotelli could well be regarded as something of a waste. Though a prodigious talent, poor judgement and off-field distractions have sullied his image and dulled his skills.
Whether he will heed the advice of Mourinho and his former managers remains to be seen. However, the talent remains and we might yet see a Balotelli adorning the back pages for the right reasons, instead of the front pages for all the wrong ones.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena