Mario Balotelli: Why the Italian Will be a Great Signing for Liverpool

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AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli is set to become Liverpool’s latest summer signing, and Jack Lusby believes the Italian would be perfect for the Reds.

CHARLOTTE, USA - Saturday, August 2, 2014: AC Milan's Mario Balotelli and Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard during the International Champions Cup Group B match at the Bank of America Stadium on day thirteen of the club's USA Tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s summer pursuit for a centre-forward is seemingly coming to fruition, with a move for AC Milan star Mario Balotelli is the pipeline.

The 24-year-old Italian had spells with Inter and Manchester City before a dream transfer to Milan in 2013; things seem to have soured at the San Siro, however, with various outlets reporting a deal is close to bring Balotelli to Merseyside.

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James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo writes that “interest in Balotelli, 24, represents a remarkable U-turn for the Reds after the club dismissed any interest in signing the former Manchester City frontman earlier this month.”

The fee is speculated as to be around the £16 million mark, and the divisive goalscorer would be the perfect acquisition for Brendan Rodgers this summer.

 

Strengths

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First and foremost, Balotelli will be introduced to the Liverpool set-up as a goalscoring centre-forward, and that the Italian has proved will be delivered with aplomb.

In 43 league games for Milan, the striker has scored 26 goals—a very healthy return for any respectable top-flight player.

This includes a remarkable run of 12 goals in 13 games following Balotelli’s January move back to the San Siro.

This form makes Balotelli one of the premier goalscorers in European football.

To make an alarming comparison, the similarities between output of the Italian and last season’s Liverpool striker partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez are abundant.

The notion of replacing Suarez is one that should never be considered by Rodgers or any respectable Liverpool fan, but at least the Reds will be acquiring a goalscorer of comparable virtue.

Furthermore, Balotelli will bring an element of audacity and unpredictability to the Reds in terms of goals.

Efforts such as this, a long-range lobbed striker against Bologna, outline the striker’s sheer ability.

The effortlessness with which Balotelli executes such manoeuvres is a joy to watch, and will bring an exciting cutting edge to Liverpool’s already eye-catching, devastating attacking play.

Liverpool fans can look forward to plenty of this, too.

The 24-year-old isn’t alarmingly wasteful, either, with a shot accuracy of 49 per cent last season according to Squawka matching that of Sturridge.

With the wholesale, witless clamour for a so-called ‘marquee’ signing for Liverpool this summer, the arrival of Balotelli should sate those yearning for a big-name centre-forward.

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The former City man is definitely one for the big occasion, and this is beyond the “Why always me?”

With experience of challenging in the Premier League, Champions League, and with Italy in the World Cup and European Championships, Balotelli is a forward of the highest calibre.

This is translated to performances on the highest stages—this season, in order to challenge once more for the Premier League title, Liverpool will require three points against those also contending.

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With a higher percentage of goals scored against the respective leagues’ top seven clubs, it is clear that Balotelli is one who thrives in the spotlight.

It may be argued that this may put Sturridge’s nose out of joint, as Liverpool’s current de facto centre-forward of choice.

However, Balotelli is a hugely versatile player capable of playing as a lone forward, with a striker partner or as an auxiliary wide player on either the left or right wing.

Balotelli can and will likely be deployed alongside Sturridge more often than not for Liverpool, and is a seemingly better option than previously reported targets Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani when this is considered.

Finally, at a reported £16 million the signing of Balotelli from AC Milan represents great business for Liverpool—a proven goalscorer with the highest credentials, and at just 24 has great scope for development under Rodgers.

 

Cons

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, November 6, 2012: Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Matija Nastasic complain at referee Peter Rasmussen after the UEFA Champions League Group D match against AFC Ajax at City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)
Manchester City‘s Mario Balotelli, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Matija Nastasic complain at referee Peter Rasmussen after the UEFA Champions League Group D match against AFC Ajax at City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Naturally, when considering the signing of Balotelli it is necessary to approach the elephant in the room.

The Italian is one of European football’s most controversial figures, and seems to thrive on this.

On the striker’s move to Milan in 2013, The Independent detailed the many high-profile incidents Balotelli was involved in during his previous tenure in the Premier League.

These include physical training ground bust-ups with former teammate Micah Richards and former manager Roberto Mancini.

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On the pitch, the striker can be as volatile as he can be brilliant, such as being “immediately substituted by an enraged Mancini after performing a pirouette and back-heeling wide when clean through on goal in a pre-season friendly.”

This is where comparisons to Suarez are warranted.

The Uruguayan has endured his fair share of widely reported controversies but, under Rodgers and in particular under the guidance of Dr. Steve Peters, last season for the Reds Suarez performance immaculately.

The same could well be speculated on Balotelli on Merseyside—the aforementioned Dr. Peters was somewhat of a miracle worker given Suarez’s behavioural record.

The hope is that Balotelli will join Liverpool and flourish within a steady environment—far removed from that of City under Mancini—and the support of a pragmatic Rodgers and the influential Dr. Peters should provide this.

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Naturally, the Italian will need to work on his disciplinary record, having received 47 yellow and 5 red cards in 158 career appearances so far.

But if this is accomplished, Liverpool will be welcoming a goalscorer of high calibre.

With huge potential to develop and a canny ability to flourish within the system Rodgers has fostered with the Reds alongside Sturridge or—and this will likely happen given the Englishman’s injury record—as a lone forward, Balotelli will be a snip at £16 million.

Make yourself at home, Mario.

Read the opinions of other TIA writers on the signing of Mario Balotelli here.

Is signing Mario Balotelli a wise move for Liverpool? Let us know in the comments below.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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