Italian soccer is well known for its dominant strikers, physical specimens that can shake off two defenders at the time with their strength and skills, so making it there pretty much guarantees you you’ll be able to make it anywhere.
Throughout history, there have been several players that had everything it took to make it in the Italian Serie A, but their off-court antics or trouble-making personality stopped them from reaching their ceiling.
And now that the Mauro Icardi saga has finally come to an end as he was sent on loan to Paris Saint-Germain, let’s take a look back at the careers of 5 strikers that could’ve been legends at Italy, but failed because of their lifestyle:
Honorable Mention: Antonio Cassano
5. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo
The Argentinean made it to Italy at the tender age of 20, and had some modest stints with Atalanta, Lecce, and Fiorentina, finally breaking out at Roma following a brief tenure with Espanyol.
Osvaldo had it all. He was fast, strong, smart, and an outstanding finisher, but he decided to take his talents to Boca Juniors and finish his playing career early to pursue success as a musician and be with his new wife Jimena Baron. Needless to say, that didn’t work out.
4. Adrian Mutu
Adrian Mutu wandered around the Serie A for years before finally breaking out at Parma. He then completed a move to Chelsea but was suspended due to his abuse of cocaine, an issue that haunted him for the remainder of his career.
Mutu went on to find success at Fiorentina, where he scored 57 goals in 112 caps, but he was never the same sharp striker he used to be. He could play multiple positions on offense and was a great playmaker as well, but off-court issues prevented him from fulfilling his true potential.
3. Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli was never away from controversies. Being a black striker in the Italian national team, he faced a lot of hate and criticism from racists fans. Still, he made sure no one in the country liked him anymore for the way he acted.
Balotelli openly admitted to being a Milan fan despite playing for Inter, and his off-court antics and careless personality stopped him from being taken seriously. He then struggled with injuries and the lack of playing time took a major toll on his career, up to the point where he even struggled to find a new team.
Adriano was Brazil’s newest hope. He was the second coming of Ronaldo Nazario, a guy that could single-handedly change the outcome of a game with his skills, strong frame and ability to finish with both feet and with his head.
He was unstoppable and nobody could take him down when he had control of the ball and had unlimited range. However, his father’s death was a blow he could never get back up from. He then struggled with alcohol and return to Brazil to leave amongst gang members and drug dealers.
1. Mauro Icardi
And last but not least, we find Mauro Icardi, a guy that could’ve been Inter’s ultimate legend, but his big mouth and poor management made him the most-hated villain in town.
Encouraged by his wife Wanda Nara, Mauro challenged the team’s supporters, coaches, players, and front office, up to the point where he’s not even wanted in Argentina’s national team. He’s still young and has the talents to turn his career around, but he better start playing and proving his worth rather than letting Wanda do the talking.