When Mario Balotelli signed for Liverpool this summer, everybody knew that it would be a bumpy ride.
Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini and Cesare Prandelli have all failed to tame the enigmatic Italian, but Brendan Rodgers understandably saw his £16million valuation as a risk worth taking, accepting the inevitable highs and lows, the vast spectrum of the sublime to the ridiculous, that eternally accompanies the former Manchester City striker.
Twelve games and just two goals into his Reds career however, it appears the Anfield boss is already thinking twice, recently refusing to rule out the notion that Balotelli could be moved on as early as January. Jamie Carragher has likewise speculated that the 24 year-old won’t be on Merseyside next season.
So, was that £16million swoop actually good value for money? We at Football Fancast think not, and just to prove it, here’s FIVE strikers, all available for around the £16million mark during the summer (or less), Liverpool could – and probably should – have signed instead.
It may have been a transfer shrouded in controversy, considering the last player to directly swap Old Trafford for Anfield was Phil Chisnall in 1964. But the contrasting fortunes of Danny Welbeck and Mario Balotelli since their summer moves is evident for all to see.
Indeed, Balotelli’s netted just twice in twelve outings for the Reds and is yet to get off the mark in the Premier League. Welbeck, on the other hand, has bagged five goals in his first seven Gunners appearances, including a hat-trick against Galatasaray in the Champions League:
But it’s not all just about the goals. Whereas the Italian international has already proved himself incredibly alien to Liverpool’s style of play, Welbeck – purchased by Arsenal on deadline day for an identical £16million fee – is quick, agile, industrious and lethal on the counter-attack, suiting the Reds perfectly.
He’s also a year Balotelli’s junior and home-grown, which again, fits into Liverpool’s transfer policy under Brendan Rodgers far better than the former AC Milan striker.
Former Ligue 1 stars certainly have a mixed track record in the Premier League and I’m not suggesting 23 year-old Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette doesn’t come with obvious risks for a club like Liverpool.
But the three-cap France international was amongst Ligue 1’s most prolific front-men last season, as shown below:
And he’s carried that goalscoring form into the current campaign:
This kid’s quickly looking like the real deal. He finished off a hat-trick against Lille earlier this month with this skilful effort:
Famed for his electric pace, goals and versatility – often featuring out wide in attack as well as centrally – Lacazette more than meets Brendan Rodgers’ summer stipulation for ‘multipurpose signings‘. Here’s a clip of the 5 foot 11 forward in action:
Newcastle were hot on the Frenchman’s heels during the summer, but their £10million bid fell on deaf ears. It’s likely another £6million however, in addition to Liverpool’s clout in the transfer market, could have convinced Les Gones to sell.
Loic Remy’s failed medical at Anfield remains besmirched in mystery. The France international was set to join the Liverpool ranks for a mere £8.5million in July, but an apparent heart defect convinced the Reds pull the plug.
Bizarrely however, the 27 year-old had passed a medical to make it into Didier Deschamps’ France squad just weeks previously, and by the end of the transfer window had passed yet another medical to officially sign for Chelsea – again, for a cut-price £8.5million.
Currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Brenan Rodgers may feel his decision was justified. But there’s no doubting Remy’s goal-scoring credentials in the top flight, with a return of 21 goals in 45 Premier League appearances – including this cool finish on his Chelsea debut:
Compare that to Mario Balotelli, who has scored less Premier League goals, 20, in more appearances, 61, and cost £7.5million more. Here’s a look at Remy in action:
If Liverpool knew what they do now about Valencia star Paco Alcacer, perhaps we would have seen some explicit interest over the summer.
Indeed, the 21 year-old has been nothing short of potent over the last twelve months:
And that strong form has seen Alcacer rise to the forefront of Vincente del Bosque’s plans for the Spanish national team – he’s claimed four caps since his debut in August, netting thrice in the process. Here’s a look at the 5 foot 11 forward in action:
Fernando Torres-esque dare I say? Bearing no particular defining strength but an impressively varied all-round-game.
Alcacer might be a target Rodgers wants to consider for the January window, but Valencia are planning to bump up his release clause to a whopping £40million:
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) September 18, 2014
Liverpool were strongly linked to Wilfried Bony throughout the summer and appeared genuinely interested in the Swansea striker before Mario Balotelli popped up on their radar:
— Swansea City Online (@SwanseaCityLive) August 21, 2014
But that’s already looking like a poor piece of business from Brendan Rodgers, with the Ivory Coast international netting four times in nine Premier League outings this season – including this superb goal against Leicester City:
That builds upon a return of 16 in 34 last season to keep the Swans in the top flight, in addition to 37 goals in his final 36 Eredivisie appearances at former club Vitesse Arnhem. Here’s a clip of Bony in action:
Famed for his power, aerial ability and aggression, the 25 year-old is purpose-built for the Premier League and would offer Liverpool’s attack something a little different.
Swansea issued several hands-off warnings during the summer, but his £19million release clause – albeit, £3million more than Mario Balotelli’s transfer fee – was well within Liverpool’s financial reach.