Could Mario Balotelli be MLS Bound?
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Mario Balotelli signing with his hometown side Brescia last Summer was supposed to be a turning point in his career, where he would be in a position to lead and excel as a player however, the 29-year-old is now once again a free agent after the club terminated his three-year contract.
Since making his Serie A debut for Inter Milan at age 17, Balotelli had been viewed as a young phenom that could one day become one of the best players in the world. During his stints with Inter Milan, Manchester City, and the Italian National team, Balotelli showed flashes of brilliance and signs that he was indeed on his way to living up to those expectations however, the 29-year old had many bumps in the road that caused many managers to refrain from signing him because they felt the cons outweighed the pros in adding him to their roster.
Signing with Brescia last summer was viewed as a positive story for Balotelli’s career, but ended up going downhill as he had to deal with racism both on and off the pitch in his own country, which is truly disheartening to see.
Balotelli was productive in the first half of the season; he scored 5 goals in 13 matches. Unfortunately for Balotelli, he was the target of racial abuse on multiple occasions and to make matters worse, the club’s owner even managed to anger his star player after remarks made during a press conference that were not well received by many soccer fans and media around the world. After facing racial abuse on more than one occasion, playing for Brescia was rather unpleasant and may have robbed him of his enthusiasm. This three-month break was really the breaking point as the club, who are last in the Serie A standings and likely to be demoted back to Serie B, decided to part ways with their biggest star.
The big question now is whether Balotelli will make the move to North America and sign with an MLS franchise. In the past few years, the talented Italian striker had been rumoured for an MLS move, but he chose to remain in Europe with hopes of potentially getting another oppotunity on the Italian national team.
In fact, there were even multiple reports of Balotelli being in talks with Toronto FC, before they signed Argentine winger Pablo Piatti on free transfer from La Liga side Espanyol to be their third DP after captain Michael Bradley, who had been one of the team’s DPs, took a discount and signed a TAM deal with the club.
Under the current circumstances in the world and leagues still trying to finish their 2019-20 seasons, Balotelli should strongly consider a move to MLS. With the MLS is Back tournament kicking off on July 8, Balotelli could take advantage of this opportunity by signing a one year deal with a team that will give him the opportunity to showcase his talents and play a pivotal role in a tournament that will be generating plenty of interest from soccer fans and casual viewers looking for live sports to watch while they wait for the NBA and NHL to resume in August.
The MLS season is in a unique situation; the MLS is Back tournament is expected to wrap up on August 11, and the league has yet to release information for their resumption plans following the tournament, so teams will likely be playing with a reduced schedule and potentially another tournament to determine who wins the MLS Cup.
With that in mind, Balotelli could look at which team offers the best fit as well as the best environment to succeed instead of being a DP for a shortened season. The Italian striker could choose to sign a one-year TAM contract with a contender in hopes of parlaying that into either another opportunity to play for a European club competing in the Champions League or a massive payday in the MLS.
Balotelli would be a great investment for all MLS teams as his popularity would surely boost jersey and merchandise sales and depending on when fans are allowed back in stadiums, could garner plenty of interest from fans and be a bankable star in terms of ticket sales, which could expand the team’s fanbase domestically.
Although larger market teams like LA Galaxy, Toronto FC, and New York City FC would benefit with the addition of Balotelli, Inter Miami should not be ruled out in making the most appealing offer. With David Beckham’s side having an open DP spot, Super Mario could be enticed with the idea of taking his talents to South Beach and becoming the face of Inter Miami.
If Mario Balotelli chooses to move to the MLS, where would you like to see him sign? And which team would give him the best chance to succeed?
Video Credit: Serie A (YouTube)