Keisuke Honda began playing alongside Mario Balotelli, claiming that the Italian was a huge talent, but he did nothing to improve.
If you want to be the best you have to train
Balotelli went through a turbulent 15-year career that includes periods in Inter Milan, Manchester City, Liverpool and Milan before his stock plummeted amid losing form in front of goal. Honda saw the Italian striker’s self-destructive tendencies closely at Milan, and believes his bad off-screen approach ultimately prevented him from realizing his potential. The former Rossoneri star said that he had great talent but did nothing to improve and that he wanted to change his daily routine: “Mario, trust me. If you want to be the best, you have to train.”
Balotelli impressed during his first stint in Milan, being sold to Italian giants Manchester City for €20m (£17m/$24m) in January 2013. The former Italy international scored 26 goals in his first 43 games for the Rossoneri and managed to earn a move back to the Premier League with Liverpool ahead of the 2014-15 season. For the Reds, Balotelli’s performance levels dropped dramatically, leading the club to send him back to Milan on loan after just one season at Merseyside. Balotelli was much less prolific in his second spell at San Siro despite having players like Honda on hand as he scored just three goals in 23 games before returning to Liverpool for a short period.
Life after Liverpool
Liverpool released Balotelli in 2016 and Balotelli subsequently joined the French outfit Nice on a free show, where he was initially able to rediscover his best form. Balotelli scored 17 goals in his debut campaign at the Allianz Riviera and another 26 in all competitions in 2017-18, but he let his standards slip after that. Balotelli’s Nice contract was terminated in January 2019 amid reports that he was out of shape in training and Marseille tore him up on a short-term deal.