Oh Mario Balotelli… how we’ve missed you so.
When Balotelli left Manchester City back in the January of 2013, the Premier League lost one of the world’s most enigmatic characters in football.
But after just a year in a half back in Serie A with AC Milan, the Italian superstar is returning to the English top flight this time playing in the red of Liverpool.
With 30 goals for AC Milan in his 54 appearances, his time away from the EPL could be enough for him to have matured, knocking back all the shenanigans that have caused so much trouble for Balotelli in the past.
Could this REALLY be the year that Balotelli bursts from his massive potential to become one of the world’s finest players?
Here are FIVE REASONS to be excited about new Liverpool signing Mario Balotelli.
“If you don’t buy a ticket, then you won’t win the lottery.”
Well Balotelli needs no invitation to purchase tickets, as ever since the striker moved to Milan in January 2013, no other player managed more shots in the Italian Serie A than Mario, with 229 (Squawka).
He may have missed most of those, but when he does hit them sweetly there’s not much a goalkeeper can do about it.
Balotelli is the type of player that can produce a goal out of nothing, which was what AC Milan relied on much of last season. However with Liverpool much more composed in possession when compared to the Serie A outfit, Balotelli may not need to conjure something out of nothing week-in-week-out and focus on finishing off his chances.
Much like a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the beginning of his career, Balotelli has a very keen eye for a pass and has the required technique to execute it.
The Italian is extremely strong when holding up play in the opposition half, but instead of playing a simple pass back to a midfielder Balotelli has the ability to pick out his team-mates making runs in behind him.
Chests, back-heels, headers… Balotelli can send a player through on goal when you least expect it.
Why don’t you just ask Sergio Aguero?
Liverpool are by no means desperately in need of a new signing, but by adding Balotelli they now have the depth and the firepower in attack to push themselves further in Europe as well as challenge for the EPL title.
Balotelli and Sturridge have a very similar style of play, but it is expected that Sturridge will be moved to the flanks to make room for the feisty Italian.
However like we saw with Suarez, the friendly competition Balotelli and the Englishman will have for goals can keep Liverpool ticking… especially with a host of players behind them able to supply the ammunition.
Luis Suarez was not far from controversy during his three and a half years at Anfield, and Balotelli is likely to be involved some way or another in the English press.
However the focus the media has on the Italian greatly shifts their attention from Liverpool’s other stars, to the Reds’ advantage.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho does the same – albeit intentionally – so his team doesn’t have to deal with the scrutiny from journalists and critics alike.
Instead of articles bashing Liverpool’s display, they could be more focused on how Balotelli insulted a referee or more spectacularly, lighting fireworks in his toilet.
However he performs for Liverpool this season, Balotelli will draw crowds of people all over to world to not only watch him play, but follow his daily life.
Liverpool fans and neutrals will be extremely excited to see what the maverick Italian can bring back to the Premier League, whether it’s scoring a hat-trick against Manchester United or throwing darts at the Liverpool Youth team.
Even during his time in Italy, “Super Mario” is seen weekly in the British press. Now that he is back in England, they won’t be able to get enough of him.
Welcome back to the EPL, Mario Barwuah Balotelli.