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Since he no longer plies his trade on the Italian peninsula, Serie A Weekly turned to Jack Pitt-Brooke - who writes for UK newspaper The Independent and is a huge Manchester City fan - for an update on the striker and how fans of the Premier League club feel about ‘Super Mario’. Here’s what he had to say

For all the magic of David Silva, the excellence of Vincent Kompany, the masculinity of Pablo Zabaleta, ask Manchester City fans who their favourite player is, and more often than not you will get the same answer: Mario Balotelli. For a club who have always cultivated an image of absurdity, irreverence - fundamental unseriousness - Balotelli fits perfectly, certainly better than he ever seemed to fit at Inter.

And, for all the pirouette-shots, tantrums, dart attacks and red cards, the boy is brilliant; the most talented player for his age I have ever seen in the flesh and just as good a 20-year-old as Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo. He has done things I never thought I’d see in blue, and will only get better. Last season he never had the chance to settle fully because of a knee injury, but still managed 10 goals in 20 games.

Because of injuries, the calendar and the form of Carlos Tevez, most of Balotelli’s games last year came in the cup competitions. I was lucky enough, though, to be at the game when he exploded into the Premier League. It was West Brom away last November: Balotelli slouched his way through the first 20 minutes, moving only to try stepovers or antagonise the officials.

Then, as if bored with his own boorishness, he scored two goals in six minutes - one a tap-in, the other a shot angled into the bottom corner after he held off two defenders. Having won the game for City, he decided to stamp on Youssuf Mulumbu and was sent off. But, given his goals, who could begrudge him that?

Sometimes, yes, he got carried away. Against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League he was sent off before scoring the goals which won the game, painting a tribute to Nigel de Jong on the chest of Goran Popov. But more often than not he was brilliant: in the FA Cup game with Aston Villa he scored one of the best goals I have ever seen - a first-time side-foot finish of a long ball that arrived from over his shoulder.

And it was the FA Cup in which Balotelli made himself the City hero he now is. He led the line in the semi-final, playing with discipline and authority as well as the force of his natural gifts. He held the ball up well, worried the United defence and then, in the mad, blissful, glorious aftermath, ostentatiously waved his famous blue shirt in the faces of the disappointed in the red half of Wembley.

Rio Ferdinand lost his cool, ran to remonstrate, and Mario responded with only a wink. In the final Tevez returned, so Balotelli was moved to the left, but was just as good, playing as important role as anyone in the most important day of my life.

Now, this season, I’m greedy for more. Providing his knees his hold, there is no reason why he should not score and entertain with even more regularity than in his debut season. I revel in Mario Balotelli and everything he does, and cannot wait to share another year with him.

Follow Jack on Twitter here

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