As the Mario Balotelli to Liverpool move is ever so close to completion, let’s take a look at how this happened and why it makes nearly perfect sense in every interpretation of the word.
As Brendan Rodgers was handing off the world class yet temperamental Luis Suarez to Barcelona, maybe he felt empty. Maybe he felt bored. Maybe he reclined in his office, sighed, looked up at the ceiling and thought “now what?”
He helped tame Luis Suarez as he led the league in goals and assists. Possibly he looked around and had his “eureka!” moment, thinking that the next logical challenge for him would be to take on the supremely talented yet downright silly Balotelli.
The rumors begin
Before Liverpool played AC Milan in the International Champions Cup, Rodgers praised Balotelli up and down.
“Balotelli is a big talent,” Rodgers proclaimed. “He's got all the qualities. He's 6ft 3ins, he's quick, his touch is terrific and he can score goals.” As if he was window shopping and saw something he loved but couldn't obtain it just yet.
Then all the journalists fired away the ready made Easy-Bake Oven calibre reporting on their stories regarding Balotelli to Liverpool. Then, as quickly as the rumors were cooked up, Rodgers pulled the plug and through them out.
“I can categorically tell you Mario Balotelli will not be at Liverpool,” Rodgers said, slightly peeved that he had to field such questions. This was August 4th.
Rumors are confirmed
Apparently Rodgers was doing his best politician impression because everything he “categorically” denied was actually true. Fast forwarding to August 21, reports were steaming out of Italy that Liverpool and Milan had agreed a meager fee for Super Mario of just £16 million.
Think about that, £16 million. Sunderland bid just £2 million less for Fabio Borini. Shane Long was purchased for just £4 million less. Hell, even Andy Carroll sold for more than £2million more! That alone should be sufficient reasoning as to why this makes perfect sense.
Fine, if more comprehension is really necessary, he’s 24. So even if this is a crash and burn he won’t leave for free. Unless, of course, he ends up in jail. So barring criminal activity he'll be resold for at least half of this figure, if not all of it.
Balotelli scored 12 goals in his first 13 games for Milan when he made the move from Manchester City in January of 2013. Last year was a huge disappointment all around for Milan and for Balotelli was no different.
He scored 14 goals in 30 appearances, including three penalties. Let’s just stop there for a second though. Any striker who scores every other game in a season is considered a disappointment must be high quality.
Jose Mourinho labelled the Italian as “uncoachable.” In unrelated news, Mourinho has also labelled himself as “the Special One” so there’s that. Mourinho is an extremely prestigious coach but Rodgers must fancy himself to get more out of Balotelli than his old mentor did, or that maybe Balotelli will realize this may be his last real chance.
Balo's role in red
In Milan, Balotelli didn’t have a leader like Steven Gerrard, a strike partner like Daniel Sturridge nor a free flowing attacking team like he’ll be walking into on Merseyside.
He’ll have the likes of Gerrard, Philipe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic and Jordan Henderson creating for him, the chances will be aplenty. Sturridge will still be the man looked at when Liverpool need a goal and Gerrard will still be the inspiration making Balotelli just another cog in the machine, less pressure and attention.
Balotelli will be given every chance at succeeding at Anfield and he’ll have full backing of the Kop just as Suarez did and he’ll have every chance to do what Suarez has done.