When Luis Suarez left Liverpool for Barcelona Brendan Rodgers had a huge gap to fill in the striking position. Believing that everyone deserves a second chance, he turned to the unpredictable Mario Balotelli.
However, for a man of such supposed talent, he has, so far, offered nothing to Liverpool apart from his occasionally funny, often controversial and normally downright bizarre Instagram posts.
He failed to adapt to the pressing style that Rodgers wanted for his side. When he came off the bench, his movement was lethargic and he did not show enough passion to spark the game into life. Unsurprisingly, the Anfield faithful quickly lost patience with the £16 million Italian.
Bad news: Balotelli staying
The bad news for Liverpool fans is that Balotelli leaving Liverpool may not happen any time soon. He has been left in limbo after Sampdoria decided that they will not be attempting to sign him this summer.
Aged 24, Balotelli has already cost 59 million pounds in transfer fees, and that number is certain to increase. His Anfield prospects for next season look very bleak with Divock Origi set to finally join the club and Danny Ings on his way to Anfield. Brendan Rodgers also seems determined to sign another goalscorer, which would make it difficult for Balotelli to get a seat on the substitutes’ bench that he so often occupied last season. So what next for the unreliable Balotelli?
Super Mario: Wasted talent?
Nobody can dispute the fact that Balotelli is a talented player. He is soon turning 25, which means that he has time on his side if he wants to turn his career around. One of the areas that he needs to improve is his discipline.
He has frequently failed to respect authority throughout his professional career, which was displayed last season when he took the ball away from vice-captain Jordan Henderson (now club captain following Steven Gerrard’s departure), in order to take a penalty. Despite scoring the penalty, taking the ball from Henderson showed a lack of respect for the man who will lead the club next season.
Balotelli will also need to improve his work-rate if he wants to contribute something to the team next term. Liverpool are a pressing team, but this method will not work if the person at the tip of the formation cannot put pressure on the opposition defenders. Rodgers has also informed Balotelli that he must be willing to train harder if he wants to feature next term.
For now, it appears to be a job too big for the Italian, and a move to another team with lower expectations might be a good decision, as it will give him the chance to start over.