Disdained for his lack of work rate up top, but loved for his turbid contribution to the clubhouse morale – as well as his off field antics – Mario Balotelli recently headed back to his former club AC Milan on loan from Liverpool.

Without mincing words, his contributions have been less than stellar, but he also suffered an adductor injury, leaving him on the sidelines for the better portion of the season thus far.

In just four appearances for the Rossoneri, he’s bagged a single goal and no assists, but looked promising on a multitude of occasions.

Dino Panato/Getty Images Sport

Most prominent of these would fall conclusively on his start away to Udinese, where he scored his one and only goal for the season to date. Though exhibiting some of the same signs of disinterest and poor fitness as he did at Liverpool, there were flashes of brilliance that seem to personify the playing career of Mario Balotelli instantaneously.

Superb placement into the upper left corner of the goal from a 25-yard free-kick saw the goalie motionless, helplessly watching the ball pass by to give Milan a 1-0 lead. Up top and guiding the attack for the better portion of the game, his set-piece goal in the first half of the match would ultimately be rendered the difference in a 3-2 victory for a struggling Milan side which sits seventh in the table going into their Sunday fixture with Carpi.

As of Thursday, Balotelli had returned to light training following his rather lengthy injury spell, and the future looks bright for his cameos in the first team during the second half of the year. Although it appears that much of his game remains the same as when he left Anfield in the summer, it is as translucently clear now as it was two years ago that his playing style is ideally suited to Serie A.

With the winter window arriving rather quickly and the Rossoneri having already purchased Carlos Bacca to bolster their attacking options, it will be imperative that Balotelli gets off to a good start following injury, or he will run the risk of another year toiling in the reserves.

Read more from K.E. Walter