Liverpool flop rejoins former club despite explosive on-pitch row with manager just 12 months ago
Mario Balotelli has rejoined Turkish side Adana Demirspor just a year after leaving the club following an explosive on-pitch row with his manager
Mario Balotelli has completed a remarkable return to one of his former clubs after completing his eighth transfer in eight years since leaving Liverpool.
The Italian joined the Reds as a desperate replacement for Luis Suarez in the summer of 2014, signing in a £16m deal from AC Milan despite then-manager Brendan Rodgers insisting he did not want the striker just a few weeks earlier.
He would ultimately prove to be a big-money flop at Anfield, going down as one of the club’s worst ever Premier League signings. Scored just four times from 28 appearances, and only once in the English top-flight during a disappointing year on Merseyside, he struggled back on loan at AC Milan before Liverpool let him join Nice in the summer of 2016 without demanding a transfer fee just to get him off the books.
Enjoying three successful years in France with both Nice and Marseille, even if his last half-campaign at the former proved unsavoury, the controversial striker has since spent season-long stints at Brescia, Monza, and Adana Demirspor.
Suffering relegation with Brescia, he failed to win promotion from Serie B with Monza before bouncing back with a 19-goal season at Adana Demirspor. However, his time in Turkey came to a controversial end following an explosive on-pitch row with manager Vincenzo Montella.
Clashing following the final whistle after Adana Demirspor claimed a 1-0 victory over Umraniye, Balotelli enraged his compatriot after saying something to him as he walked off the pitch. And while his comments were inaudible, Montella appeared to be provoked and needed to be restrained by his backroom staff.
He then turned and appeared to lunge towards Balotelli and they were only separated by last-ditch intervention by staff on the pitch. The striker was sold to Swiss side Sion days later in August 2022.
Sion had billed the much-travelled striker as their biggest ever signing, only to lose patience with the 33-year-old after one season.
Balotelli scored just six times for Sion as they were relegated from the Swiss Super League. And despite having a year left on his current deal, the club’s sporting director Barth Constantin, who has previously fallen out with the Italian, had vowed to find a 'solution to the problem' after the striker was banished from first team training.
"There has been interest in Mario Balotelli from a Saudi club, but nothing concrete," Constantin told reporters last month. "The Saudi transfer window will close later than the one in Europe, so we will see what happens. But for the time being Mario is training at our Riddes base, separately from the first-team squad."
The sporting director’s declaration followed on the back of FC Sion President Christian Constantin laying into Balotelli in a heated interview with Swiss magazine L'Illustre.
"Mario has not repaid the confidence we placed in him,” he said. “Neither has he rewarded us for the big financial efforts we made for him.
"This lad thinks that the rules that govern a team are made for other people rather than him. If his agents think it worthwhile to find him a club in a country that values money differently to ours, then maybe he will soon play football again. Or maybe not. Perhaps it will be better that way."
Sion successfully managed to offload Balotelli last week, but not to Saudi Arabia, as the Italian’s contract was terminated by mutual consent.
Addressing Balotelli’s exit, Constantin told Le Nouvel Liste: “Everything was resolved in a very courteous manner with Mario. The document that we prepared is now in the hands of our lawyers who must complete it.
"Rather than talking about money issues, I would have preferred him to score the goals we hoped for. That said, it’s time to move on.”
And Balotelli has completed a remarkable return to Adana Demirspor, just one year on from nearly coming to blows with his manager. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Montella is no longer in charge, with former Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert replacing the Italian back in June. Meanwhile, former Manchester United winger Nani is one of his new team-mates.
Infamously labelled ‘unmanageable’ by his former Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho, the latest twist in Balotelli’s colourful career ultimately proved the Portuguese right once again. But by returning to Adana Demirspor, the only club other than Nice where he has hit double-figures since leaving Liverpool eight years ago, he will at least be hoping to reignite his fortunes in familiar surroundings.