Roberto Mancini's seemingly endless patience with Mario Balotelli may finally have worn thin, after reports emerged that the striker's attitude, coupled with his equally dismal performances this season may have seriously endangered his City career. Should Balotelli leave, City would free up room for their number one target, Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao, but would it be a good swap? talkSPORT pit the two forwards head-to-head...
Career to date
Despite still being only 26, Radamel Falcao's career has taken him from his native Colombia to Argentina, then Spain via Portugal, with the striker winning major titles with all of his teams since leaving his homeland. El Tigre's first big win came with River Plate, where the striker won the 2007/08 Torneo Clausura under the tutelage of his current coach at Atletico Madrid, Diego Simeone. The following year he would leave for Porto, where, in his second season with the Portuguese side, he stamped his name on the European football map after a string of brilliant displays en route to lifting the Europa League trophy. The following summer it looked certain that the forward would move to one of the biggest teams on the continent, but Atletico Madrid pulled off a major coup when they tabled a successful £34.7m bid for his services, thanks in no small part to help from a third party. The fee soon paid off, as El Tigre again fired his side to a Europa League title, becoming the first player to win the tournament with two different teams, back-to-back. This season, the striker is a major part of resurgent Atletico's unlikely challenge for the La Liga title, keeping them ahead of old rivals Real Madrid and running current leaders Barcelona close.
Mario Balotelli's honours list runs Falcao's close, but the City man has had less of an impact in those trophy-winning campaigns. Prior to his time in the Premier League, Balotelli honed his craft in Italy, but actually had unsuccessful trial spell at Barcelona aged 16, prior to signing for Roberto Mancini's Inter in 2006. At 17, he made his Serie A debut against Cagliari and in the same season would rise to fame after netting a brace against Juventus in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals. By the end of the season, Balotelli lifted the Serie A title and Coppa Italia, scoring seven goals in all competitions. He subsequently added two Serie A titles under the management of Jose Mourinho, as well as the Champions League with Inter in the 2009/10 campaign. Since his switch to Manchester City, the striker has improved his impressive honours list with FA Cup and Premier League winner's medals.
While both players have won plenty of trophies, with 167 club career goals to date, Falcao is well ahead of Balotelli's 29 strikers, although the Colombian has been playing first team football for three more years than the City man. In comparing their honours list, Balotelli's is arguably more impressive, but he has played in better teams, while Falcao has tallied at least 34 goals in all competitions per season for Porto and Atletico, since moving to Europe.
Falcao is often touted as a pure poacher, but the Colombian's work rate his increased significantly since his arrival at Atletico, perhaps due to the aggressive style imposed by Diego Simeone on the Spanish side. There's no doubt that the area of the field where he really comes alive is in or around the box, with the striker brilliant in the air, clinical with his one-touch finishing and equally deadly when curling or hammering a goal from the edge of the area. Most recently, Falcao has added dead-balls to his arsenal, scoring a brilliant last-minute free-kick against Real Sociedad.
Balotelli is less prolific than Falcao, perhaps in part due to his tendency to over-complicate matters in front of goal with occasionally comical consequences. Despite that, the striker has shown an ability to finish instinctively in the box, and his occasional mishaps with the ball are inevitable for someone with his inventiveness and willingness to use skill. When his creativity pays off, the Italian can be astoundingly good, most notably in his most consistent string of performances with Italy at Euro 2012. Unlike Falcao however, the City man has been inconsistent with his club sides, and his poor disciplinary record doesn't help, either.
Manchester City had plenty of warning when they signed Mario Balotelli from Inter, that his immense talent can play second fiddle to his combustible nature. Falcao, on the other hand, has no such attitude problem to stand in the way of his talent, and the Colombian has consistently showed his knack for scoring goals. His demolition of Chelsea in the European Super Cup suggests he would have no problem adjusting to English football, and the way he adapted to Portugal, Argentina and Spain already showed that he isn't the kind of player to struggle with a change of scenery. For all of Balotelli's occasional genius, letting go of the striker to facilitate the signing of Falcao is like getting rid of a Ford to buy a Ferrari. The question is, would Falcao choose City over the host of clubs likely to line up for his signature?
Do you agree, is Falcao streets ahead of Mario Balotelli, and why should the Colombian choose City? Leave a comment below...