Italian soccer star and three-time scudetto winner Mario Balotelli has completed a rather surprising move to AC Monza in the Italian Serie B, the country’s second division.
Soccer fans were caught by surprise last Tuesday when the 30-years-old was announced as a new signing by the club owned by Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
“I thank the president Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani for this opportunity,“ said Balotelli to Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.
„I will do everything to help Monza reach Serie A.“
The transfer to AC Monza is a sort of homecoming for ‘Supermario’ Balotelli.
The Italian international finally reunites with former Rossoneri midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng and former Sports Director Adriano Galliani.
Balotelli – who scored 30 goals in 54 appearances with the Rossoneri – will be coached by Christian Brocchi, former AC Milan caretaker currently in charge of AC Monza.
„The turning point was Mario’s availability, but also that of [his agent] Mino Raiola who renounced any commission” told AC Monza chairman Adriano Galliani to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Then we began to negotiate, already knowing that we would come to an agreement”.
Balotelli will earn $ 485.000 including several bonuses linked to his caps, which amount to the lowest salary of his career.
A sizeable difference in comparison to the $ 7,3 million he was making during his two-season stint with Premier League
giants Liverpool in 2014-2016.
The striker – who had been without a club since he was released by Brescia in July – made headlines when he began training with Franciacorta, a fourth-division Italian team.
After having been linked with Brazilian club Vasco Da Gama and English Championship outfit Barnsley, the forward decided to start again in a team close to his family, located in Brescia.
The 30-year-old hopes to play a big role in his new team’s push for promotion to Italy’s top league.
Despite the splashing summer transfer window which saw the arrival of a whopping total of 13 new signings, AC Monza are eighth in Serie B after nine matches and are nine points adrift of leaders Salernitana.
And the expectations are high, given that in 2018 AC Monza were bought by Silvio Berlusconi, three years after they were relegated to the fourth tier due to bankruptcy.
The former Italian Prime Minister acquired the club for $ 3,6 million after selling AC Milan in April 2017 for $ 900 million.
With the signing of Balotelli, Berlusconi hopes to repeat the success he achieved during his ownership of AC Milan when he managed to secure the Rossoneri 29 trophies.
And Balotelli could be the man for the job, given his impressive list of records: during his career, he has won three Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia, Italian Super Cup and the Champions League.
After a brief start with Lumezzane at the age of 17, he later joined Inter Milan in 2007.
He then moved to Manchester City and ended having a spell in French Ligue 1, with both OGC Nice and Olympique Marseille.
During his time in England, he won one Premier League title and the FA Cup with Manchester City, scoring 30 goals in 80 games, on top of 14 goals in just 36 caps for Italy.
Despite this illustrious list of teams and stats, Balotelli has unfortunately always been talked about for his off-field antics more than his on-field performances.
From his famous ‚Why Always Me‘ celebration in the Manchester derby to being substituted for needlessly showboating against LA Galaxy in a friendly, the list of his exploits is very long and casts a dark shadow on his next chapter.
On Friday AC Monza will travel to Venice for the eleventh matchday of Serie B, where Balotelli is set to debut.
Only then we will know if he can manage to perform again on a top-level.