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Balotelli returns to Milan with much more to prove

Another new season, and Mario Balotelli is about to find himself at a new club once again. Kind of.

After a return to the Premier League, Balotelli is headed back to the club that sold him a year ago. In August 2014, Liverpool paid £16 million for his services; this year they were desperate to give him back for free.

Seems like a good business strategy from Milan, right? Not so fast.

When Balotelli first arrived at Milan, it was seen as the homecoming of the club’s saviour. He was set to form a lethal partnership with fellow Italian international Stephan El Shaarawy. At the time, El Shaarawy was one of the hottest commodities on the peninsula, scoring 14 goals in domestic competition to lead the league at the halfway mark.

But El Shaarawy scored just one goal after January 29, 2013: the day Super Mario arrived. Il Faraone is still just 22 years old, but has now already begun a new chapter in his career in France with Monaco, having already put his time at Milan in the rear-view mirror.

Truth is, Balotelli isn’t the easiest teammate to get along with on or off the pitch.

This time around has to be different, with his once blossoming career coming to a complete halt because of his own reckless behaviour.

“He had everything too soon because of his talent. He’s lost his way,” said FIGC President Carlo Tavecchio. “Now it’s up to him to find it again, now that he’s back at Milan and with the help of Milan.”

It was a much quieter affair when Balotelli arrived at Milan for the second time. There weren’t thousands of screaming fans awaiting to catch a glimpse of him, and many Rossoneri diehards are skeptical about bringing him back period.

If he wasn’t being caught smoking on a train to the next match, he was posing for pictures on social media with a gun or crying on the bench after being substituted off. Most have had it with Balotelli. But Adriano Galliani and Silvio Berlusconi are not most.

“As [Italian song-writer Antonello] Venditti says, certain loves never die,” Galliani said in a response to a question asked about Super Mario.

“They draw enormous circles and then they come back. President [Silvio] Berlusconi and I are two romantics.”

Both Galliani and Berlusconi have won numerous trophies with Milan over the years, but saving Balotelli’s career might be their most difficult task yet, and at this point there are very few pulling for either Galliani, Berlusconi, or Balotelli to succeed.

“We want Balo because we are convinced this lad realises that this is absolutely his last chance,” said Galliani. “I hope he understands that.”