Paul Parker

Balotelli’s next move make or break

If Mario Balotelli leaves Manchester City, as seems increasingly likely, it will represent a major personal blow to Roberto Mancini.

Mancini has staked a great deal on being able to get the best out of his compatriot, but the project appears to have ended in failure.

I don't think Mancini has gone about things the right way, as his approach to dealing with Balotelli seems to be inconsistent.

Most of the time he has indulged Balotelli, defending him against criticism. However, there have been occasions when he has snapped. He has had a rant at him on the touchline or in the media, and most recently they had a training ground confrontation.

Balotelli must be a frustrating player at times, but managers cannot let their frustration come out in public. You have to keep things in-house, and Mancini has failed to do that.

In the end, though, City have to sell. He is simply not delivering enough on the pitch to justify all the controversy.

The constant negative headlines have not reflected well on a club that is trying to grow on a global level, and Balotelli's departure will allow them to make a push for another striker in the summer.

You must wonder how all the episodes with Balotelli and Carlos Tevez affect Edin Dzeko.

The Bosnian has been professional and consistent - yet he has consistently seen the others picked ahead of him despite their antics.

Certainly, Balotelli has something likeable about him, and he seems like a popular guy at City.

But if I were in that squad, I'd want the manager to show some strong leadership and get him focused on contributing to the team.

A move would represent a new start for Balotelli, but even though he might enjoy the home comforts of Italy it would be wrong to imagine the pressure is off him.

Balotelli made himself a big national hero in Italy with his performances at Euro 2012, and there will be pressure on him to maintain that level in Serie A.

City have three other quality strikers, so they could cope with his inconsistent displays - Serie A sides do not have the same strength in depth so he would have a greater weight of expectation on him.

And let's not forget, the Italians have already had one dose of Balotelli from when he was at Inter.

In England the public - and particularly the media - enjoys big, eccentric characters who are always in the headlines.

That explains the popularity of Jose Mourinho (with whom Balotelli fell out at Inter) - whereas in Italy they found him arrogant and rude.

Italian clubs - in particular AC Milan - pride themselves on their players' behaviour. They teach their youngsters manners, and the squad eats together like a family.

If Balotelli fails to fit into this mould, he could have trouble. And if things go wrong again, he may find himself short of clubs willing to take a risk on him.

Balotelli is still only 22, and though it would be wrong to chalk all his episodes up to the exuberance of youth, he still has time to turn things around.

He is an extremely talented player who could have another 10 years at the top.

Let's hope a fresh start gives him a chance to unlock his full potential.