Is Mario Balotelli worth the risk for Brendan Rodgers?
Love him or hate him, you have to admit, Mario Balotelli will add something a little more unique to the Premier League as he returns to Britain’s top flight this week via a move from Italian giants AC Milan to Brendan Rodgers’ evolving Liverpool side.
The fee in question is believed to be in or around the region of £16 million, a reasonable fee for a big name striker in this day and age. Balotelli (24), will not have signed in time for tonight’s crunch game against Manchester City at the Etihad. A shame, as a return to his former club would have been quite intriguing to say the least. But the question remains; Is Mario Balotelli worth the risk for Brendan Rodgers?
Liverpool said goodbye to talisman Luis Suarez earlier this Summer following a £75M agreement with Spanish club Barcelona. Yet It appears as if Rodgers does in fact have an eye for an extraordinary striker because not only are both Balotelli and Suarez exceptionally talented, they also have a tendency to attract all sorts of attention in the press due to their on-field antics.
Suarez netted an astronomical 31 goals in 33 games last season, despite missing nine games at the start of the year due to a suspension for infamously biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Yet regardless of his unacceptable behaviour at times, he was without a doubt the Premier League’s shining light as he picked up the 2013/14 Football Association Writers player of the year award as well as the Premier League Golden Boot with Anfield team-mate Daniel Sturridge as runner-up and the Barclay’s Premier League Player of the Season award, capping off an unbelievable season for the Uruguayan.
Now, the burden of expectation falls on the confident shoulders of Mario Balotelli who has been very much brought in by Rodgers to try and replace Suarez, if that’s even possible. What can Liverpool fans expect from the Italian maverick? He’s quick, strong, a good hold-up player, strong in the air and knows where the net is.
Sounds great for all of £16M, but this is certainly not what you get week in, week out. Perhaps his main weaknesses are that he’s very inconsistent, ill- tempered and single-minded for large patches of a season as we found out from his high profiled spell at Manchester City. He almost single-handedly cost City the title in 2011/12 with his sending off at the Emirates against Arsenal.
Yet it was he, who held his composure in front of the QPR defence on the final day of the same season, to lay the ball off to Sergio Aguero for the unforgettable finale that sealed Manchester City’s first top division triumph in forty-four years. ‘Super Mario’ notched up a mere 20 goals in 50 league appearances for the sky blues during his time at the Etihad, including some crucial goals that helped City to FA Cup and league success during their most successful era of all time.
Brendan Rodgers will hope that he can slot straight in to a very compact and dynamic Liverpool offense alongside Daniel Sturridge, similar to the same style and formation that almost led the Kop outfit to Premier League glory last season. It may take time for Balotelli to adjust and mould into Rodgers’ plans and philosophies, but there’s no doubt this move is exciting for Liverpool fans but also the neutrals too.
The Northern Irishman has put his faith in Balotelli but it will be a tall order if he is to match Suarez’ feats. A completely different player to Suarez, the Italian star doesn’t have the jaw dropping abilities of a Suarez, the capacity to glide past defenders in tight areas, ‘nutmegging’ one or two in the process, no, but he will offer something different to a Liverpool side that will look to build on a more than progressive season last time out.
There’s no saying on how he’ll fare because of the unpredictability in his locker, but for just £16M, there will be little pressure on him to deliver. Expect a season or so to be enough time to fit in at Liverpool, but a season full of controversy and talking points; whether good or bad, will be had by all.
Do you think that Brendan Rodgers has made an error or pulled a master stroke in the signing of Mario Balotelli from AC Milan? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .