Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher does not believe Mario Balotelli will remain with the club next season, and has labelled the controversial forward a panic buy.
Balotelli joined the Reds from AC Milan for £16million over the summer but has offered little thus far to suggest he can make a lasting impression at Anfield.
He was hauled off at the interval during the Merseysiders’ 3-0 humbling defeat to Real Madrid, suggesting manager Brendan Rodgers’ patience is already wearing thin at the Italian’s lacklustre displays.
Balotelli earned further ire by swapping shirts with Real defender Pepe at half-time and Carragher, who thinks Liverpool rushed in to sign the 24-year-old as a replacement for Luis Suarez, has suggested the striker could soon find himself surplus to requirements.
“I’d be surprised to see him here next season,” said the former centre-half, who made over 500 appearances for Liverpool in 17 years.
Carragher added: “It was just a panic; they needed someone. They left it too late and they’ve bought different players in different positions instead of maybe going out, not spending the whole Suarez money on one player, but buying two or three big players.
“A lot of the players have come in and done a decent job here and there, but nobody’s really done anything.
“They bring in Balotelli late on – it’s obviously a panic.”
Other former Liverpool players in Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness have questioned why Balotelli was signed at all, given his track record of falling out with high-profile managers at his other clubs.
“I don’t blame Mario Balotelli – I blame Brendan Rodgers for bringing him here,” Redknapp said on Sky Sports 5.
“How he thought he could turn around a player that (Jose) Mourinho, (Roberto) Mancini, (Cesare) Prandelli have all washed their hands of…
“There’s a reason when you go to the supermarket and things are half price. Why on earth they went for him, I’ll never know.
“They should have just left him alone. The fact he went and got him, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Souness, a former player and manager of Liverpool, backed up his fellow pundits, adding: “It was a really, really brave decision to take him into that football club, given the quality of managers and the quality of clubs that have said ‘thanks but no thanks’.”