After finally having Luis Suarez praised from prised his clutches, Brendan Rodgers would have been forgiven for taking a moment to lean back in his chair and breath a huge sigh of relief that he no longer has to justify the “winning mentality” of world football’s three time biting champion.
Fortunately for Liverpool fans, however, this was not the case.
No. The Premier League’s top young manager instead leant forward, scratched his head and boldly proclaimed: “i’m bored now”. He proceeds to reach into his pocket, seize his phone and order Ian Ayre to sign the next-best-nutjob, Mario Balotelli.
“What? Who? Oh not that little shithouse, I hate that gu- ONLY SIXTEEN MIL?! Oh, alright then”. – Every Liverpool fan, ever.
What I should of course mention is that my preceding insinuations are all based on comical invention, and it’s much more likely that Brendan actually just simply noticed that a 24 year old with a Premier League, Champions League, and Serie A medal collection paired with a maturing, almost 1-in-2 goal scoring record was available for about a quarter as much as Monaco will demand from Manchester United for an ageing Falcao come this time next year.
In truth, Balotelli’s ability and potential are a given. No one doubts he’ll score goals, the only question is whether he’ll do it with a firecracker up his arse or not. And again, no one doubts he could become one of the world’s best, they just doubt he can be bothered to shift out of second gear.
“Where’s my press conference?” – Balotelli, every time he enters a room.
Balotelli’s switch not only represents both great value and potential for Liverpool, but also the quality of the job that Brendan Rodgers has done at the club. Would Mario have joined two years ago? No chance. Would he have joined one year ago? Still no. I even have my doubts he’d have joined the club at the start of the window, prior to seeing the club add wisely for the squad. Rodgers’ shrewd and logical acquisitions bear weight that the Reds are capable of walking upon a higher path when paired with the right tactics, and that was more than enough to convince Balotelli it was the right place for him. And for crying out loud, why shouldn’t us Liverpool fans be happy? It’s been a while since we’ve signed anyone who’s been big enough to expect his own press conference on arrival. It’s again testament to Rodgers’ character that he told Balotelli the players of Liverpool Football Club actually do their talking on the pitch, rather than behind a desk in a semi-crowded hall.
Already the star studded forward looks a top addition. Great movement, good awareness and a budding bromance with Daniel Sturridge now complimenting a newly acquired… well, work rate, suggests Liverpool might well be onto a winner, no matter what Tony Evans mutters into his pint when everything’s become a little too hazey to host a live webchat to keep you up to date on what bullshit is currently pissing him off (which could be anything from Rodgers’ recklessly meddling with the traditional four four two, to the latest antics of Emre “strolling” Can).
Starting against Tottenham in the 3-0 demolition job, the quite-super Mario managed to set himself up well for what could be a good and long spell in Liverpool. He put himself in goal scoring positions numerous times, provided perfect dummy runs for his team mates (such as dropping in front of the Tottenham back line whilst Raheem Sterling darted around the back for the first goal, leaving the Spurs defence looking about as structured as a Mark Lawrenson narative), and gave enough evidence to the travelling Kop of being both a semi-workhorse and a total twat when he wants to be, roughly introducing Eric Dier to the floor because the young lad was starting to get on his nerves.
So why wouldn’t he kick on? He already knows the pace of the league, what’s expected of him and how to do his job. With the manager behind him – a man who’s shown the ability to work with all sorts of people, and develop attacking players well – there are no limits for Balotelli. Personally, i think it’s very important that Mario bonds with the squad to the extent that they are always encouraging, rather than critical of him. When the tide’s turning against him, the Italian needs an arm around the shoulder rather than a smack around the ear. If he can settle well, with other players accommodating him – which i’ve no doubt they will – then Mario could well become yet another top striker who goes down in folklore.
Daniel Sturridge has already turned his career around at Liverpool and gives his all for the side, and if he can create a similar understanding with Balotelli to that which he had with Suarez, then the two could become another superb partnership to threaten defences. Mario is also arguably* the greater lone striker out of the two fantastic forwards, meaning that even during the times when Sturridge suffers an injury (most likely at the hands of a Roy Hodgson fitness session), Liverpool should have no worries in the goals department.
So what will become of mad Mario? Will he go down a legend, or will he falter? A the slender cost of £16million (the same price as ‘dat guy’ Welbeck, may i add), Liverpool most likely see little ground for the deal to come off badly. Balotelli has shown his whole career he’s a goal scorer, so even if he doesn’t set the pitch alight (not literally, although don’t put it past him) he’ll still inevitably score goals. And if he does settle? He could well be one of the best. Add an increased proficiency in front of goal and consistency to already great physical attributes and flare, and that would easily round off a rough diamond.
All things aside, one thing is for certain with Balotelli: we most definitely don’t have another Aspas on our hands.
Will Mario Balotelli reward Brendan Rodgers’ trust? Can he become a star player for Liverpool? Have your say in the comment section below, or on Twitter @TBRFootball.
Luka Modric could prove the perfect Emre Can replacement at Liverpool
The Croatian has been linked with a move to Anfield with Emre Can expected to leave this summer.
Emre Can looks set to be on his way out of Anfield this summer as the 24-year-old German international seems unwilling to sign a new contract at Liverpool.
Spanish news outlet El Gol Digital have recently linked Real Madrid with the German international, although they would have to fend off interest from European rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Sport 1, Can recently expressed his desire to be featured in the world team of the year at some point in his career.
For the 24-year-old, it would be difficult to turn down a club of Madrid’s magnitude and his departure would represent a blow for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nonetheless, a swap deal for Real Madrid star Luka Modric would be a superb way to ease the pain of the German’s exit.
Reports linking Can with the Bernabeu come just a matter of weeks after Spanish newspaper Dario Gol expressed Luka Modric’s desire to leave the current Champions League holders.
The Croation international is reportedly keen on a return to the Premier League return, with Liverpool, along with Tottenham, named as front-runners for his signature.
Even at 32 years of age, the Croatian midfielder is still one of the best players in the world and would represent an excellent short-term fix for the Reds.
His brilliant passing range, his superb footballing brain, and his delicate skills are all crucial components that would boost Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Combined with a world-class attack consisting of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, the Reds truly could stake a claim for the most dynamic frontline in England next season.
Most importantly, the addition of Modric could finally mark the replacement for Philippe Coutinho that many Liverpool supporters have been begging for.
A seasoned international with tremendous experience at the upper levels of world football would be a remarkable transfer for Klopp’s side, and would surely bolster their title aspirations in 2018/19.
Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing
The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.
Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.
Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.
It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact.
However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.
Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.
Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.
Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.
Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.
Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.
His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.
Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.
At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.
If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record
The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.
Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.
What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.
Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.
As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.
The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.
The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.
Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.
The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.
The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.
Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?
Sessegnon or Bale? Past or future? Spurs must make right move this summer
Amadou Haidara released by Leeds United, bringing an end to bizarre transfer chapter
Jack Wilshere’s Everton arrival would surely spell the end for Morgan Schneiderlin?
Matthew Pennington’s future looks away from Everton after loan woes
Tottenham Hotspur3 weeks ago
Tottenham Hotspur must push Toby Alderweireld toward Barcelona
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Jurgen Klopp’s brave January decision is playing off thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Brentford4 weeks ago
Romaine Sawyers – Blossoming in the Championship with play-off contenders Brentford
Liverpool4 weeks ago
Mohamed Salah: Is Liverpool’s Egyptian star the best player in the world right now?
English Premier League3 weeks ago
Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain growing into role under Jurgen Klopp
Chelsea4 days ago
Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans
Arsenal4 weeks ago
Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Three talking points from Wembley