Mario Balotelli was always going to be a risk for Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers admitted it, former players stated it and fans reluctantly revealed their worries when he signed from AC Milan over the summer in a £16m deal.
Many hoped that he would finally show the potential he clearly has, but the 24-year-old has been a disaster so far, with ‘shirt swap-gate’ the latest blot on the Italian’s copybook.
Could cutting their losses in January be the best option for Liverpool? Maybe, and here are FIVE reasons why…
After last night’s shirt swapping incident, Liverpool fans’ patience appears to have run out with Mario. The majority of Reds supports have stuck by Balotelli as the missed chances have passed, but, although that are a few still in ‘team Mario’, it seems as though the tide has now turned a little. Don’t believe us? Check out the tweets below:
A cardboard cut-out of Mario Balotelli #ThingsMoreUsefulThanBalotelli
— Bob Hodson (@RealBobHodson) October 23, 2014
— Pete Kerr (@Pete_Kerr) October 23, 2014
Liverpool’s success last season was built on attacking at near breakneck speed. The way the Reds blew Arsenal away within half an hour at Anfield was, perhaps, the finest example of the sheer pace in attack, with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling scaring defenders.
Yet Balotelli’s lack of movement and dynamism appears to be slowing down those around him. The Italian likes to play with his back to goal and is adept at holding up the ball, yet when Liverpool are at their best they cut through reargards with pace and precision.
“I have never been a real, out-and-out striker – I have always been someone who goes around the pitch.
“If it was my choice, I would always go with two strikers. It is the way I like to play, but Brendan asked me to play as the first striker. I understand that when the ball comes from wide on the left or right, I need to be in the box otherwise there might be no one there at all.”
The words of Mario himself in a recent interview. Balotelli’s best performance this term came during his debut against Spurs where he lined up alongside Daniel Sturridge. But with the latter seemingly living on the treatment table of late, the option to play such a system may not be one Brendan Rodgers can go for too often…
Every striker will miss glorious chances every now and again. It’s just what happens. But Balotelli has now failed to convert a fair few routine opportunities, with his lack of composure against QPR last weekend alarming.
Last season Liverpool were ruthless in front of goal, yet with ‘Balo’ up front they look more toothless.
He may actually still be worth some money…
At 24, there will be a club somewhere that will be willing to gamble on Balotelli. Interest in Italy could be high, although the bigger clubs are unlikely to touch the striker at the moment. Liverpool will have to take a massive loss on their man already, but that’s the gamble taken when you make a “calculated risk”.