Love him or loathe him – and opinion will be divided forever and a day – there has definitely been no ignoring Mario Balotelli during a Manchester City career sprinkled with both magic dust and madness in almost equal proportions.
As the fiery Italian prepares to complete his £17m move from the Etihad to AC Milan, much to the apparent disappointment of pseudo Dad Roberto Mancini, we look back on his colourful stay and key moments.both on and off the field.
Balotelli scored his first and second Premier League goals on November 7, 2010 in a 2–0 away win to West Brom. In the same game he received a red card for violent conduct as the result of a clash with Youssuf Mulumbu.
On December 28, Balotelli scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4–0 win over Aston Villa. Despite this success Balotelli still had disciplinary problems, and in March 2011 he was sent off in the second leg of Manchester City's Europa League draw with Dynamo Kiev.
On May 14 Balotelli was man of the match in the 2011 FA Cup Final as Manchester City defeated Stoke City 1–0 to win their first trophy in 35 years.
Balotelli scored the opening two goals and forced the dismissal of Jonny Evans as City beat Manchester United 6–1 at Old Trafford on October 23, the day he revealed the T-shirt bearing the words ‘Why Always Me?’.
On November 27, Balotelli came on as a 65th minute substitute against Liverpool and was sent off after receiving two yellow cards, but made amends a week later when he scored using his right shoulder in City's 5–1 win over Norwich.
On January 22, 2012, Balotelli came on as a substitute during a match against Tottenham. He appeared to stamp on Scott Parker but, despite having already been booked, did not get a second yellow from referee Howard Webb, who did not see the incident. He was later charged with violent conduct and banned for four matches.
On April 8, 2012, Balotelli received his fourth red card of the season, after receiving his second yellow card during the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal for a tackle on Bacary Sagna. In the same match he had tackled Arsenal's Alex Song and there was speculation about a nine match suspension which didn’t materialise, however.
After the Arsenal match, Roberto Mancini appeared to have finally lost patience with Balotelli, suggesting his Italian compatriot would not play any part in the remainder of City's season and be sold. Despite this, Balotelli did make an appearance as a late substitute in the last game of the season, the famous title-winning match against Queens Park Rangers.
In December 2012, Balotelli decided to fight against Manchester City's decision to fine him two weeks' wages for his poor disciplinary record the previous season by taking his club to a Premier League tribunal. Balotelli missed 11 games domestically and in Europe last season because of suspensions. With less than a day remaining to the start of the hearing, Balotelli dropped his tribunal action and accepted the fine.
Balotelli’s City career was only two weeks old when he provided us with a taste of what was to come when he crashed his Audi near the club’s Carrington training ground. Police were quickly in attendance and, on searching the young Italian, were keen to know why he had £5,000 in cash in his back pocket. ‘Because I’m rich’ came the reply.
In March 2011, Balotelli was fined a week's wages – around £100,000 - after being caught throwing darts at youth players from a training ground window. Luckily for his young colleagues, he missed.
Thirty six hours before a Manchester derby, Super Mario was pulled out of his mansion by the fire brigade after a bizarre attempt to let off fireworks in his bathroom. Clearly unaffected by the drama, Balotelli scored twice in a 6-1 win against United the following day.
There was one unconfirmed story which suggests that, when asked by his mum to go to the shops to buy an iron, a mop and a hoover, he returned some time later with a giant trampoline and two Vespas. But no cleaning products.