Out with Luis Suarez, in with Mario Balotelli. What are Liverpool FC thinking? Last month, Liverpool sold one of the most polarizing soccer players in the world (Suarez) because of his character issues, and now they go and sign a bigger toothache (Balotelli) for $27 million? It’s absolute, hypocritical nonsense. The English Premier League (EPL) has already seen this mess of a player before, and while Balotelli was entertaining to the casual fan during his three-year stint with Roberto Mancini‘s Manchester City squad, Liverpool diehards cannot be satisfied with this shocking move by team manager Brendan Rodgers.
Last month, Rodgers made it clear that Liverpool were not going to bring on the controversial striker when he said:
“I was asked the question about Balotelli last week and spoke about what a talent he is and excellent player he is,”…“But I can categorically tell you that he will not be coming to Liverpool.”
Apparently, Rodgers has had a sudden change of heart as Liverpool have shown desperation to make a splash signing to find a legitimate helpmate for striker Daniel Sturridge this offseason with only 10 days left in the summer transfer window. They made a big splash alright, for a bargain price as well, but Balotelli’s relatively low transfer fee for a 24-year-old “star” is a clear indicator that AC Milan were desperate to offload him to any viable suitor, because they no longer valued him as a difference maker.
In a season where Suarez broke the EPL record for the most goals in a calendar month (10), set the Liverpool club record and tied the EPL record with 31 goals, shared the European Golden Shoe with Cristiano Ronaldo and helped his club to secure a spot in the Champions League, Balotelli didn’t even lead Milan to qualify for the Europa League — Europe’s consolation tournament.
Balotelli is a bit like NFL legendary WR Randy Moss. He has exceptional talent and size, but he only plays hard when he feels like it. The ability to stay interested and focused, especially when things are going bad for his team, is an attribute that he severely lacks. Balotelli is easily angered by constructive criticism from his coaches and taunts from disrespectful fans and the media when they portray him as a “bad boy”.
His immature off-the field incidents which are well-documented have subsided a bit for his standards, but the fact he hasn’t lived up to his on-the-pitch potential is hard to ignore. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer, Italy were bounced out of the tournament in the group stage and Balotelli only managed to score one goal in three appearances. He fluffed a few clear chances against the opposition, and in the final game for Italy, which was ironically played against Suarez’s national side Uruguay, Balotelli saw the bench in the latter portion of the decisive game because he just didn’t look hungry enough out there.
In retrospect, it’s clear that Suarez already had one foot out the door in the direction towards Barcelona in this transfer window, even after coming off a legendary season with Liverpool. However, his biting incident in the World Cup was the tipping point for Liverpool, and they took the stance as a team that would not tolerate any player who would disgrace the club.
Balotelli may not bite the opposition, but if Rodgers thinks he can put a muzzle on this kid and get the best play out of him, he might be in for a predictable train-wreck where he won’t need any help from a higher governing soccer commission to suspend his own player.