I have made no secret that I love the kid, heck i can't stop talking about him. I have also been very clear that he is a luxury AC Milan can't afford at the moment during a rebuild phase. He lacks the patience, the calm, and the mentality to be a Leader and a player to build around. On his best day he can change a game with his absolute raw talent, on his worst day he can be his own worst enemy costing himself and his team dearly. This rant is not meant to talk about Mario for AC Milan or his future, it is meant to ask one simple question:
Will Mario Balotelli Establish Himself as a World Superstar at this World Cup?
For most he is already a Superstar. Never far from people's minds even announcers in matches when he is not playing seem to bring him in conversation if he tweeted something silly or scored a screamer. The point is, he is a novelty, and in reality not yet the footballer many want him to become. There is no one to blame for this situation but Mario himself. We have seen it at times at Milan, big games come and go and he appears disinterested; what he lacks in focus though he makes up in talent when it is applied. He proved that two years ago at the European Championships where he was relatively unstoppable up until the final where he was, to be frank, awful.
it seems he finds another gear for his National team that he can't find at the Club level consistenty. Maybe it is the short tournament window or being among friends, but there is something that happens for Mario in the National strip that doesn't happen anywhere else. The team doesn't play for him or to him per se, instead they work with him, it is the perfect balance. If Prandelli chooses the 4-3-1-2 or 3-5-2 Mario will have a partner, a scenario he was not afforded under Clarence Seedorf at AC Milan and his productivity suffered. Will it be Cassano, Insigne or Immobile? For me the first two are the better option, a support striker to his point man, something Milan can and should do if he remains. Prandelli may not understand tactical defending but he understand this much and Mario may reap the reward.
For me, I think this will in fact be a big tournament for Balotelli. He may not lead the tournament in goals or help Italy win it all. Winning a World Cup takes more than a big striker performance, what he will do, is grow up. The hope is that he shows some maturity and while the team doesn't need Leadership with the likes of Buffon, DeRossi, and Pirlo, he can become less of a distraction and sideshow. Can he carry the burden of a Nation? No, but he can prove that he can evolve and mature.