This summer Eurosport is counting down the world's greatest footballers, as voted by our international network of journalists. We will reveal one player per day, culminating in the election of the first Ballon d'Eurosport on July 19.
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Super Mario is about as divisive as you can get, and this is reflected in the voting. Widely considered a talented but amusing disaster in the Premier League, he has been magnificent since joining Milan, and straddles both extremes for the Italy national team.
Most favoured by our German office – probably on account of his single-handedly eliminating them from the European Championship last summer – and, of course, in Italy, where he has been a revelation since his unhappy stay at Manchester City.
Powerful, audacious and supremely confident, Balotelli is the archetypal modern striker in that he can play anywhere across the front-line, and can operate both as a traditional target man and a deep-lying centre-forward.
However, he lacks the team ethic required to be one of the true greats, and has a tendency to explode, both in his football and personal life. Still very young (it is hard to believe he is only 22), so certainly has time to sort his head out and improve further. He certainly seems happier back in Italy.
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How Eurosport voted
We asked the editorial teams of 10 countries/areas around the Eurosport network to compile their list of the world's 25 best players.
Then we did the sums, Eurovision-style. It's simple: a first-place vote is worth 25 points, second place is 24... all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.