HE MAY be rated one of the best young players in the world, but Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has escaped Mario Balotelli’s radar.
The £24m Manchester City striker revealed his ignorance of the 18-year-old England midfielder after beating him to the Golden Boy trophy, an award for the best player aged under 20 handed out by a Turin newspaper.
“What’s his name? Wil…? No, I don’t know him, but the next time I play against Arsenal I will keep a close eye on him,” said Balotelli of Wilshere, who has made 19 starts already this season. “Perhaps I can show him the Golden Boy trophy and remind him that I won it.”
Balotelli also managed to slight Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and Tottenham’s Rafael van der Vaart – all former winners of the award – by saying only one previous Golden Boy was better than him: “There’s only one that is a little stronger than me: [Lionel] Messi. All the others are behind me. The 20-year-old has shown only glimpses of talent since a £22m summer move from Inter Milan, but did not attempt false modesty on collecting his gong.
“I am delighted to receive the award, but who should have won it but me?” he said. “Two years ago I finished sixth, and then fourth in 2009. It was finally my turn.
“My aim is that this prize will transform itself into the Ballon d’Or. To have won this award is a good omen to achieve that.”
SUPER-MOUTH MARIO | BALOTELLI’S BON MOTS
“Because I am rich” – Balotelli’s response to police who asked why he was carrying £5,000 in cash
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“I’d prefer to see them debate the problem of racism more than they debate my girlfriends” – in satirical mood on the Italian media failing to criticise right-wing fans