Mario Balotelli is a tremendous talent, but the question of how to get the best out of him—how to keep him focused—is one people will puzzle over for years to come.
Here goes nothing.
I believe three things will bring the best out of Balotelli for Milan this season. They're not easy to do, but they are necessary.
The most important thing—and this has always been the case—is to let Mario be Mario. He's a nut. He's going to do crazy things. It's good for calcio. Let him be personable. Let him celebrate when he scores and incur fines. It's truly OK. It's who he is, and it's never going to change. If you embrace Mario, he will embrace you and give you his best.
Another key with Mario is the ugly racism problem, which ESPN and other major outlets have brought to the forefront recently. It is imperative that AC Milan aggressively confront this problem and show unwavering support for Balotelli and others. They must be proactive in preventing it, and proactive in their responses to it.
Finally, they must not overuse him. He is an incredible talent, but Milan will be competing in multiple tournaments and will go deep in all of them. Between Coppa Italia, Serie A, the Champions League and his international duties, he will be a very busy player. You want him to win for you, and he will, but you don't want to run him into the ground and risk injury or reduced fitness.
When trying to harness a big personality, it's like throwing darts at a board with a blindfold on. There's plenty you can try and a lot that will fail. You have to hope the individual appreciates the consideration and time spent to manage them.
As they say with everything in life, I guess we'll see.
What do you guys think Milan must do to get the most out of Balotelli next season?