TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Report
Mario Balotelli can leave Brescia on a free transfer during the upcoming winter transfer window, according to the club’s controversy-courting owner Massimo Cellino.
The former Italy international has been beset by racist chants and taunts from fans on his return to Serie A this season, and even some questionable remarks from Cellino himself, who is now suggesting that Balotelli isn’t cut out for the relegation dogfight facing the struggling club and can move on if he likes.
“Mario is sad because he is unable to play his game,” Cellino declared on the Italian TV show Le Iene. “Fighting for survival in Serie A requires a huge sacrifice and perhaps he thought it would be much more simple.
“In January, he can leave on a free. In this moment, he needs to choose which road is best for him. He needs to convince himself. I don't want him to leave. If he leaves, we have both lost the bet … Mario is not a warrior who takes everyone on, it's not like that. Mario needs to show that he is suffering.”
Cellino also defended himself after prior remarks in which he said of Balotelli, “He’s black, what can I say, he’s working on clearing himself but he’s having a lot of difficulty,” drawing widespread criticism despite Brescia releasing a statement calling it a joke.
“I wanted to de-dramatize the situation, but I did too much,” he said. “Racist? I am Catholic, I can't be [racist] … I spoke to [Balotelli] yesterday – I haven't offended him … My comment was taken out of context. I said something stupid, I also make jokes.”
Balotelli, 29, has been linked to MLS repeatedly over the years, with Toronto FC the latest club to reportedly show interest in his services. Talented but inconsistent, he’s won three Serie A championships, one in the English Premier League and a UEFA Champions League title but has rarely reached top form thus far at Brescia, his hometown club.