|Milan’s Mario Balotelli (AFP-Yonhap News)|
LONDON (AP) ― Back in Italy after a turbulent period in England, Mario Balotelli has been voted player of the week in the Associated Press global soccer rankings for scoring twice in his first game for AC Milan.
Balotelli was the clear winner with 181 points from AP’s panel of 22 global soccer journalists, 64 points ahead of another player who moved in the January transfer window, Frenchman Moussa Sissoko, who scored twice on his debut for Newcastle against Chelsea.
Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich topped the team rankings as it continued to show total domination of the German league, with English Premier League leader Manchester United in second place.
Usual AP rankings leaders Barcelona and Lionel Messi were downgraded for average performances in Spain.
Will Tidey of the San Francisco-based Bleacher Report said no one should be surprised at Balotelli’s performance.
“How predictable that the enigmatic Mario Balotelli should twice on his Milan debut put in a man-of-the-match performance and highlight just how brilliant he is, just a matter of days after Manchester City decided he wasn’t worth putting up with anymore,” Tidey said.
Balotelli scored a stoppage-time penalty to give Milan victory over Udinese on Sunday, days after leaving Manchester City and a seemingly endless series of scandals and misbehavior.
Bayern Munich’s Croatia international Mario Mandzukic moved from eighth place last week to third after scoring twice in a 3-0 away victory against Mainz. The result opened a 14-point gap at the top of the league.
With 113 points, Mandzukic was just four points behind Sissoko.