Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli celebrates his 25th birthday today, but the Italian ace has little to show on an individual level in his career thus far.
While the former Inter and Man City star has a relatively impressive collection of honours, which includes three Serie A titles, a Premier League trophy and a Champions League triumph, his contribution throughout has been questionable.
Much was expected of the youngster during his early years at Inter, but a reunion with Roberto Mancini at Man City gave him the chance to escape from the Italian media who seemed so quick to criticise him.
However, not even his bond with Mancini could withstand his rebellious ways as the pair were forced to concede that it wasn’t going to work.
A return to Milan with the Rossoneri, who Balotelli had supported as a child, was seen as the answer to his problems. If he couldn’t be motivated to perform for a club that he had great affection for, then where would he be able to produce?
30 goals in 54 appearances in all competitions suggested that the Italian’s problems were starting to become a distant memory. Having been made the focal point of the Milan attack under Massimiliano Allegri and with Cesare Prandelli rewarding him with the role of main protagonist for the Azzurri, it all started to fall into place.
Balotelli’s performances at Euro 2012 were arguably his best moments, as he dragged Italy through to the final with a series of impressive individual performances.
However, the demons that have plagued him throughout his career were never far away from reappearing. Balotelli soon ran into troubles at San Siro, and was constantly criticised for being selfish and for not sacrificing himself for the good of his teammates and club as a whole.
That resulted in a move to Liverpool, where he scored just one league goal all season and it has eventually led to questions being asked of his future at Anfield.
Paolo Di Canio recently questioned whether or not it was too late for Balotelli to change, insisting that he uses football to be a celebrity rather than the other way round, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.
At 25 years of age, Balotelli certainly has time on his side still, but it becomes a question of which club is going to take a risk with him and trust him to have an important role.
While videos emerged on social media of the striker being doused with champagne as part of his birthday celebrations, speculation has been rife about his future.
A reunion with Antonio Cassano, with whom he was so effective for Italy, could be the type of situation that he needs. Away from the big lights of the Premier League and with a provincial club in Italy, Balotelli may well find the surroundings he needs to flourish.
However, this wouldn’t be the first time that that has been said, and if he can’t make his next move work, then questions really need to be asked as to whether he will ever make it work.