Last January saw the three Italian giants battling over Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez. This January will see the same three sides fight over anther Man City striker: Mario Balotelli.
According to the Italian newspapers, the gulf between Balotelli and Roberto Mancini has widened again, and all three Serie A sides want to bring SuperMario back to Italy.
AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani is reported to have already sounded out City about Balotelli. The problem that Milan has is that the Rossoneri and Silvio Berlusconi don’t have the money to pay for Balotelli’s wages, never mind his transfer fee.
Inter can’t afford Balotelli either, but they have something that nobody else has. When Inter sold Balotelli to City in 2010, they inserted a ‘buy-back’ clause into the deal, which gives Inter the first option on the player should he be transfer-listed.
Balotelli upset a lot of people at Inter when he left the club, but his appearance at Andrea Stramaccioni initial press conference as Inter manager suggests that those wounds might have healed.
Inter is also the only one of the three sides who can offer Balotelli European football in the new year. According to UEFA regulations Inter can play Balotelli in the next rounds of the Europa League, whereas he would be cup-tied for the Champions League and neither Juve nor AC Milan could pick him from the round of 16 on.
What about the defending champions? Unlike their pursuit of Carlos Tevez last year, and their need for a world class stroker, I cannot see SuperMario wearing a Juventus shirt. When he played for Inter in Turin, some of the Juve fans made racist chants against Balotelli. That is something I think he would have a hard time getting over.
So unless an unknown third party like PSG comes into play, it looks like a straight battle between the two Milan giants for Balotelli in January. The big question is which Milan side has the €120m it will take to buy Balotelli and sign him to a five-year deal.
Where do you think Mario Balotelli will end up next season?