Despite being recently branded a "rotten apple" by AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, Mario Balotelli was treated to a rapturous reception on his return to the northern Italian city.
With votes at stake in the Italian elections -- La Stamp estimates the signing of "Super Mario" could be worth 400,000 votes as Berlusconi attempts a political comeback -- his new boss' blunt assessment was quickly forgotten as the former Italian prime minister sanctioned a $30 million deal to sign Balotelli.
His transfer ends the striker's whirlwind two-and-half-year stay with English champions Manchester City, during which time a litany of dust-ups have allowed Balotelli to become a caricature of the modern playboy footballer -- sporting talent and tabloid cult hero rolled into one.
One of his final acts as a City player was a training ground brawl with team manager Roberto Mancini, pictures of which were sprawled across newspapers.
In the aftermath of the dust-up, Balotelli's teammate Carlos Tevez offered to counsel the 22-year-old striker.
When Tevez, infamous for refusing to come off the substitutes bench during a match last season and subsequently going AWOL for three months, is doling out advise, it might be to seriously consider where your career is headed.
Having signed a four-and-a-half-year deal, Balotelli's future now lies back in Milan, where he rose to prominence with AC's city rivals Inter between 2006 and 2010.
Myriad stories -- both mythical and true -- surround Balotelli, who recently unveiled a head of bleach-blonde hair ahead of a match between second-place City and Arsenal.
There's the one about Balotelli driving into a women's prison, or the time he reportedly threw darts at youth team players out of a training ground window -- not to mention the impromptu bonfire which burned down his bathroom hours before he became the face of a firework safety campaign.
Or Balotelli being stopped by police for having thousands of pounds in a bag on the passenger seat of his car.
His alleged response when inquisitive officers asked why he was carrying such a huge amount of cash was to say: "Because I'm rich."
City showed admirable patience with their mercurial marksman, hoping he could consistently produce the form which saw him spearhead Italy's run to the final of Euro 2012.
Balotelli endured a tempestuous relationship with former Inter coach and current Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, but in Mancini, also a one-time coach of the Italian international at the Nerazzurri, he found a staunch ally, though the City manager used the striker with increasing sparsity.
It's this mix of lashings of outrageous talent, outlandish behavior and childish ill-discipline -- Balotelli has already picked up six red cards in his fledgling career -- which have made him a gold mine for newspapers.
Vincent Pericard is one former player who has experienced the high of being at a leading club and the low of languishing in the game's lesser leagues.
Born in Cameroon, Pericard was raised in France -- representing his adoptive country at under-21 level -- before he was snapped up by Italian giants Juventus as a teenager.
A bright future was predicted for the striker, but after leaving Juve in 2002 he moved to England and spent a decade slowly falling through the leagues.
He made five appearances for sixth-tier club Havant & Waterlooville before retiring from football in 2012, aged just 29.
Since quitting the game, Pericard has set up Elite Welfare Management, a business aimed at helping foreign players settle within the English game.
"The organization is the sum of my own experiences," the former Stoke City and Portsmouth player told CNN.
"We want to stop players wasting their talent. We should support and understand what makes him behave the way he does, instead of judging him and saying he is a lunatic or he is not bothered," added Pericard, referring to Balotelli, who is of Ghanaian heritage and was born in Perugia and raised by an adoptive family in Brescia in northern Italy.
"All the problems relate to the social side of being a human being and how you interact with other people and how you interact with a new culture and how you adapt to it."
Football clubs are experts when it comes to keeping a player in peak physical condition, but Pericard is convinced the game has room for improvement when it comes to addressing issues of mental well-being.
"A player spends 80% of his time outside of the club's supervision and only 20% inside of the club," continued the Frenchman.