Mario Balotelli's failure to settle into life at Liverpool continues to hog the headlines. Balotelli doesn't really need an introduction: the Italian never seems to be far from controversy in one way or another.
It's hard to believe that Balotelli is still just 24 .'Super Mario' has not adapted to life at Anfield, and unfortunately the pressure is mounting on the former AC Milan striker.
He was signed this summer for £16 million in what was seen as a potential bargain and a 'calculated risk'. Liverpool's struggles have unfairly been blamed on Balotelli, although some of it is justified. That matter opens up a different debate (why are Liverpool struggling?) I personally think that is mainly down to the defence, and Dejan Lovren.
With Balotelli, you're getting a player with pedigree: this man is a title winner with Manchester City don't forget, no one in the Liverpool team can say that. Without really stating the obvious here, Balotelli needs time to adjust to the 'Liverpool way' of playing.
What also counts against Balotelli is the 'lack of work rate' which doesn't help his case. The talent is there all football fans know that, the problem is though 'Super Mario' needs to 'knuckle down'. I am sure he is trying: Liverpool manager has publicly backed him - he has to, as Balotelli was signed as Luis Suarez's replacement.
- Why Balotelli can succeed at Liverpool
- Rodgers warned by Italian legend over Balotelli
- An explanation for Liverpool's poor start to the season
'Suarez's replacement' - that's the problem. We're all guilty of comparing the two too much. Such a comparison isn't fair and I feel the outstanding achievements of the Uruguayan last year only raised the bar for who ever was going to replace him.
One fact remains, though. Both players are strikers and are paid to score goals: one player did it at Liverpool and at the moment one isn't. The statistic that Mario Balotelli has taken the most shots in Europe without scoring is a very unfavourable one for the Italian, and weakens any other arguments to support Balotelli at the moment.
What Balotelli has in his favour though is his age, and he has one of the best coaches around at the moment in Brendan Rodgers. The Northern Irishman knows how to improve strikers - signing Daniel Sturridge must be one of the highlights of his managerial career. The further nurturing of Sturridge must be admired.
I personally am of the opinion that Balotelli will come good for Liverpool, it goes with out saying that he needs to pull his socks up, though. Balotelli has scored goals pretty much everywhere he has gone, whether that be in Milan or Manchester.
If Balotelli's struggles continue, that could force Rodgers into signing a striker in January which could see the Italian depart. Love him or loath him, Balotelli is a player who will always divide opinion.