You may think the statement ‘Mario Balotelli will emulate Luis Suarez at Liverpool’ is a bold statement straight off the bat and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking so either.
Replacing a controversial player with another controversial player is one way you might think Balotelli will emulate Suarez but that’s not the path that I would like to go down on. You would think Liverpool would have wanted to lay low after selling Suarez to Barcelona for £75m.
You thought wrong, as Balotelli arrived not long after from AC Milan for £16m.
Many have tried to man manage Balotelli correctly but none of them have really succeeded. Italian manager Roberto Mancini tried to during his time at Manchester City, but ultimately failed. Suarez, on the other hand, was tamed under the watchful eye of Liverpool manager Brendon Rodgers, who knows how to get the best out of his players.
Before the Northern Irishman arrived at Anfield, the Uruguayan had only scored 15 goals in 44 Premier League appearances. He also had been given an eight game ban and a £40,000 fine for racially abusing French defender Patrice Evra during a game against Manchester United in October 2011.
After Rodgers’ appointment in June 2012, Suarez scored 54 goals from 66 Premier League appearances. Although he did have the biting incident with Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a game in April 2013, the sheer amount of goals scored proves Rodgers got the best out of Suarez during his time at Liverpool.
This ultimately ended with Suarez winning the PFA Player of the Year, the FWA player of the year, the Premier League Golden Boot, the Barclay’s Premier League Player of the Season award, and helping Liverpool return to the Champions League.
Liverpool fans will be counting on Rodgers to continue this man management with the arrival Balotelli in the hope that he can emulate the goal scoring record Suarez had.
During his time at AC Milan, Balotelli scored more goals than any other player in Serie A with 26 goals. Only Suarez (37 goals) and fellow Reds striker Daniel Sturridge (30 goals) have scored more Premier League goals during the same period.
Balotelli also has the ability to draw free-kicks from his dribbling ability. Whilst Suarez only suffered 67 fouls, Balotelli suffered a huge 95 fouls. From these direct free-kicks as well, Balotelli (0.16) has a much higher conversion rate per 90 minutes than Suarez (0.09). The Italian was also reasonably close to the Uruguayan in terms of shots per game, with Suarez having 5.5 shot per game compared to Balotelli with 5.1.
Although Balotelli (6) did not have as high number of assists as Suarez (12) last season, he is still only 24 years old, and has plenty of time to work on this part of his game. With Rodgers already announcing that Sturridge is going to be his number one striker at the club, Balotelli is going to have to work on this part of his game to adjust.
Balotelli’s finishing ability has never been questioned. Despite the occasional bit of arrogance in the box, he simply cannot be contained. That arrogance, though, will decrease under the guidance of Rodgers.
It’s inevitable that Balotelli will do something controversial at Liverpool because he is still only young and developing his game. However, the inevitable hassle from having such a controversial striker in the team will likely be worth it for Liverpool because Rodgers will be able to manage him like he did with Suarez.
Mario Balotelli WILL emulate Luis Suarez at Liverpool.