x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The dark element of Mario Balotelli's surprise visit

What he did on Tuesday, gatecrashing Stramaccioni's big moment, also looked like the act of an AC Milan supporter, one who wanted Inter's new coach to start off belittled and embarrassed, and to fail.

Mario Balotelli was a surprise visitor at an Inter Milan press conference.
Mario Balotelli was a surprise visitor at an Inter Milan press conference.

A peek into the diary of Mario Balotelli, the self-styled rebel of Manchester City and Italy, would be fascinating.

He gives the impression that at least one entry a week reads: "Day off. Cause controversy in some original way to generate maximum publicity for Brand Balotelli."

Tuesday was a day off for the striker. He flew to Italy. He picked up his red Ferrari. He drove back to his former club, Inter Milan, which he left for City as a teenager.

During the press conference in which Inter's new, youthful, nervous-looking and relatively unknown head coach Andrea Stramaccioni was being presented to the media, Balotelli marched in, with a big grin on his face, to shake the hands of all the suited men answering questions from the media.

It was disruptive. It stole the show. It added to the catalogue of Balotelli incidents - the fireworks accident in his home; the late-night sighting in a Manchester establishment with a dubious reputation - which cultivate so often his rebel image that a theory is developing that these incidents are actually contrived to further that image.

When Balotelli was at Inter he created one furore by being pictured in an AC Milan jersey.

What he did on Tuesday, gatecrashing Stramaccioni's big moment, also looked like the act of an AC Milan supporter, one who wanted Inter's new coach to start off belittled and embarrassed, and to fail.