Soccer bad boy or mischevious millionaire?

Mario Balotelli, 24, has a reputation as a marquee player on the pitch and a tempestuous man-child off it. 

Colourful yet controversial, talented yet testy, the Italian international is certain to command the spotlight in Liverpool, where he replaces the nibble-prone Luis Suarez up front. 

'"Every time Mario does something is like a war."'- Roberto Mancini on Balotelli 

Liverpool was keen to strengthen its strikeforce following the sale of Suarez to Barcelona for $130 million US. 

Balotelli, purchased from AC Milan for a reported $26.5 million, looks to fit the bill.  

Liverpool views him as a striker extraordinaire (26 goals in 43 league matches with AC Milan).

But the British tabloid press views him as a living, breathing headline.  

Here is five reasons why: 


Swapping Shirts 

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Balotelli had already fallen out of favour with Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho when he sullied the famed side in March 2010.

Balotelli accepted a jersey of Inter's fierce rival, AC Milan, held it up to chest with a big grin and put it on - on live TV. 

Balotelli, being interviewed by the comedy show Striscia La Notizia, was a boyhood fan of the Rossoneri. 

Mourinho deemed him "unmanageable" and, three months later, he found himself playing for Manchester City. 


Prison Break 

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It was reported in October 2010 that Balotelli was detained for driving into a women's prison in the Italian city of Brescia without authorization.

According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, Balotelli and his brother, Enock, were questioned by prison officers and released without charge.


Throwing Darts

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Balotelli's reputation as a troublemaker resurfaced in March 2011 when he threw darts at youth team players from a first-floor window at Carrington training ground because he was "bored." 

No one was hurt in the incident and Balotelli escaped with nothing more than a tongue lashing from Manchester City brass. 


Why Always Me?

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After scoring in Man City's 6-1 victory over crosstown rival Manchester United in October 2011, Balotelli hoisted his jersey to reveal a T-shirt underneath that read, "Why Always Me?"

The message was sparked by an incident at Balotelli's home earlier that week.

Firefighters were summoned in the wee hours when fireworks set a bathroom curtain ablaze, sending smoke billowing throughout the house.

Balotelli, who had been goofing with friends, said he "got unlucky."


Mancini Spat 

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Balotelli drew the ire of incensed manager Roberto Mancini with a questionable tackle on Man City teammate Scott Sinclair during a training session in January 2013. 

Mancini was so miffed that he grabbed Balotelli by the bib. The two had to be separated.

"Sometimes, I am upset with him," Mancini admitted to reporters.

"But I give him another chance."

Balotelli was sold less than a month later.

With files from The Associated Press