Roberto Mancini has described Mario Balotelli, his former protege at Inter Milan and Manchester City, as “an idiot” and “an extraordinary boy.”
Mancini gave Balotelli his Serie A debut while Inter coach during the 2007-08 season, and then brought the talented but temperamental forward to City from the Nerazzurri for £25 million in 2010.
Balotelli contributed significantly to City’s dramatic Premier League title win in 2011-12 during a spell in England that was also marked by a number of wild off-the-pitch stories, including him escaping unhurt after a firework went off in his bathroom before a Manchester derby, but Mancini reflects on their time together fondly.
“He’s an idiot,” Mancini said at a conference at Rome’s Luiss Guido Carli University. “He is the same age as my son, he made his Serie A debut very early. He’s an extraordinary boy, talented, young, and like all youngsters, sometimes he does silly things. Youngsters wouldn’t be youngsters if they didn’t do daft things.”
After attempting to relaunch his career at AC Milan, whom he joined from City in January 2013, Balotelli had an underwhelming spell at Liverpool. However, after failing to convince new boss Jurgen Klopp of his worth, the striker made a surprise move to French side Nice last summer.
So far the transfer has worked with Balotelli scoring five goals in four league games to help his new club top Ligue 1.
“As a player, he’s fantastic,” Mancini added. “I hope this experience in France, which has started very well, can get him back to the level he was at a few years ago when he was in the national team. He has incredible quality, and knowing him as I do, he’s also a great guy.”