Every summer for the past three or four years, some enterprising journalist has floated the idea of Mario Balotelli joining Fiorentina. It’s always met by a credulous audience, wooed by the thought of the striker finally returning to Italy to realize his limitless potential and by a clever association of “renaissance” with Florence. Ugh. Anyways, the story’s back, and various outlets are reporting that Balotelli has been seen dining with Pantaleo Corvino in the past week, further sparking the rumor mill.
Until we see something concrete, or even something from a credible source, we’re not going to believe it. Instead, here are 5 reasons why Balotelli to Florence is stupid. And 5 why it would make sense.
1. Balotelli’s salary. The striker makes a cool €3.7 million at Nice. In contrast, Fiorentina’s highest-paid player is Federico Chiesa, whose salary is somewhere around €1.6 million. Even though Super Mario is available on a free, that salary is enough for Corvino to pay 2-4 other good players, and Corvino is nothing if not thrifty with salaries. While a lot of outlets have claimed that the ex-Inter Milan man would take a pay-cut to €2.5 million, that’s still way, way out of the Viola’s reach. And can you imagine agent Mino Raiola allowing his client to move somewhere that’ll pay less? Yeah, neither can we.
2. Fiorentina just invested in a striker. Hey, remember Giovanni Simeone? 22-year-old Argentine with 13 goals and 5 assists in Serie A this year? Cost €15 million (the most Fiorentina’s shelled out on a player since Juan Cuadrado back in 2013) to bring over from Genoa less than a year ago? Yeah. That guy. It’s hard to see how the Viola could justify bringing in Balotelli, who’d have to start every match due to his salary and fame, when they just invested in Cholito. Stefano Pioli clearly prefers a single striker, so it’s hard to see how he’d shoehorn both of them into the side.
3. Balotelli + a bunch of kids; what could go wrong? Okay, so Mario is not the bathroom-exploding, women’s-prison-visiting, shoe-peeing, cigarette-smoking malcontent that the media love to portray him as. While he may not have the dignity of, say, Javier Zanetti, he’s now 27 and sure seems to be more mature, only making headlines when speaking out against racism and Dani Alves being a genuinely awful little twerp. Even so, he may not be the guy you want as the senior voice on a team that almost entirely lacks veteran leadership. I am and will remain a steadfast Balotelli fan, but I also realize that combining him with the fragile egos of the Della Valles, the occasional petty tyrannies of Corvino, and a coach in Pioli who may not be able to handle his powerful personality, not to mention a bunch of very young players, makes for a combustible situation.
4. The Serie A ultras are just the goddamn worst. Nobody should have to deal with a bunch of dumb and mean-spirited people yelling racist filth, but Balotelli has suffered more of that than just about anyone, Italy is still a hotbed of bigotry. Just ask Michy Batshuayi. Mario deserves to play somewhere he won’t have to deal with that BS, and that unfortunately isn’t anywhere in Serie A.
On the other hand, though, OH MY GOD MARIO BALOTELLI WEARING PURPLE WHILE SMASHING HOME 40 YARD PILEDRIVERS AND MAGISTERIAL HEADERS GAH THIS WOULD BE SO COOL.