Mario Balotelli’s mother broke into tears when he told her he was going back to the town where he grew up to play for its main football club, Brescia Calcio.
However, the Italy international has failed fitness tests, missed training, and endured poor form during his time in the Lombardy region. His record of five goals in 19 outings for the club is an unattractive return for a striker of his pedigree, and Brescia sit rock bottom of the Serie A table.
The gamble evidently didn’t pay off. Relegation for Brescia is all but inevitable, and Balotelli’s contract is set to be terminated.
So, the 29-year-old is going to need a new club. Here we rank five potential new teams for the former Manchester City and Liverpool man, from the worst to the best fit.
5. West Ham
Not a transfer window goes by without Balotelli being linked with a return to the Premier League and, more specifically, West Ham.
But really, this wouldn’t work out. Balotelli is a good player, but it’s hard to see him playing himself into David Moyes’ good books. Sébastien Haller is already present at the London Stadium – though he’s hardly the hottest property on earth right now – and while West Ham could do with another striker even after snatching Jarrod Bowen from Hull, Balotelli doesn’t seem like the right fit. For their aspirations, the Hammers can do better. For his reputation and career, so can Balotelli.
Another club Balotelli has been linked with recently is Flamengo, who won the Brasileiro Série A for the first time in a decade in 2019.
The reason Flamengo don’t rank higher as a perfect next club for Balotelli is because, up against their talisman Gabriel Barbosa, he would get very little game time. The Brazilian has hit 25 league goals in 29 games, and Balotelli has never posted those sorts of numbers during in his career.
The newfound home of Radamel Falcao, Balotelli could actually strike an unlikely yet frightening partnership with the Colombian if he moved out to one of Turkey’s biggest clubs.
Moving to Turkey has long been considered the sign that a player is winding down at the end of their career, but Galatasaray regularly compete in the Champions League and their squad is full of quality.
Balotelli has been linked with a transfer to the club in recent weeks, and it would be fascinating to see if that move worked out.
2. Vasco da Gama
A side with no outstanding forward, Vasco da Gama finished in mid-table in last season’s Campeonato Brasileiro. However, this season things could get worse. They need a focal point up front similar to the quality they’ve boasted in the past.
Previously, Brazil greats like Vavá, Ademir de Menezes and Romario have strutted their stuff at the Maracana.
Balotelli would likely flourish at the club, becoming their star player and one of the league’s biggest names. South American football is very different to the style played in Europe, however, and Balotelli would have to adapt quickly.
1. Inter Miami
David Beckham’s Inter Miami project was only just getting started before the coronavirus pandemic, with the club playing its first few matches. And something was blatantly clear: they need a striker.
Performances were decent, but the lack of clinical finishing needs to be addressed if they are to truly compete in Major League Soccer.
Brescia’s number 45 has been rumoured with a move to MLS, but no clubs have stated their interest as of yet. Beckham has been quoted a number of times as saying he is desperate to see his side land the signings of some of the sport’s big names.
Balotelli would do just the trick, and while it would be a risky move, it’d be a risk worth taking.
RELATED STORY: Balotelli turned away from Brescia training