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BY SIMON MULLOCK SOUTHAMPTON are bringing the Dutch Mario Balotelli to St Mary's on January 1. The Saints are finalising the deal of Holland winger Eljero Elia, who played in the World Cup Final in South Africa against Spain.

But Elia's antics off the pitch have landed him in trouble with police and fans so many times that it has damaged his reputation in Germany, Italy and Holland.

Elia was named by his parents after soul singer Al Jarreau (except for the registry office not quite understanding the spelling of that name as a first name).

Since then, Elia has also had plenty of hits like his namesake.

He is notorious, however, for driving and crashing with extremely expensive cars.

In Holland, he smashed his red Bentley and posed with the car after the accident for media.

In Germany he was stopped by police at 3am for speeding with his Werder Bremen team-mate Marko Arnautovic, now at Stoke. He had the car confiscated because he did not have a licence after clocking up too many points.

He was penalised and suspended by his club.

Werder manager Thomas Eichin said: "We are completely aware of all the things in Elia's private life.

"We treat it as a private matter, too. And we are giving him continous legal help."

In May last year he crashed another Bentley in his hometown The Hague, and clashed with fans who ridiculed him on social media.

Last week Elia caused a storm in Germany by telling a fan on facebook to ''Go and f**k yourself', when the fan had written to Elia that he should be getting in shape. When Bremen played rivals Hamburg in the Bundesliga earlier this season Elia tweeted on the day of the game he was "ready for war", earning a rebuke from Eichin.

When he was at Juventus all the players were given a Ferrari for wining the league in 2012, except him because the club feared for his safety driving such a powerful car.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Dec 21, 2014
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