When Brendan Rodgers signed the enigma that is Mario Balotelli, many were caught sat on the fence wondering if the Liverpool manager had made the right decision.
Balotelli was signed from AC Milan in late August as a replacement for Luis Suarez, who joined Barcelona in a club record deal for the Catalans, but has endured something of a rough ride at Anfield.
With four months having passed since Balotelli moved to Liverpool, and 15 appearances under his belt, the time has now come for people to judge the Italian striker.
In today's football market, £16 million for a striker who is approaching the prime of his career and has a fairly impressive goalscoring record seems like a calculated gamble.
Mario Balotelli managed to boast 20 goals in 54 appearances when at Manchester City and this Premier League experience put him at advantage over other acquisitions from the summer, such as Diafra Sakho (West Ham), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) and Diego Costa (Chelsea).
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However, Balotelli has failed to register a single goal in his 10 domestic appearances for Liverpool, while these four new arrivals already have a combined 35 Premier League goals between them.
Luis Suarez last season was simply immense. His record and performances were stunning, culminating in Liverpool finishing second in the league.
Suarez brought so much to Liverpool that they could afford to be below par in defence because they knew that he would score one, two or even three goals at the other end.
He brought the best out of players such as the ageing Steven Gerrard, up and coming Raheem Sterling and also the hitman Daniel Sturridge as he floated around several positions to torment the opposition defences.
First thing's first, Mario Balotelli is no Luis Suarez (in footballing ability, mentally the jury is still out!), however, you cannot help finding yourself comparing the two strikers. And it does not take long to work out who is superior.
Their goalscoring records are poles apart as is their endeavour and team work. Suarez hit the ground running when he arrived at Liverpool and contributed to the team effort whereas Balotelli does not bring the same work ethic, contributing what can only be described as several arrogant and selfish performances.
These facts along with poor performances have not pleased the Liverpool faithful as once again Balotelli is in the press for all the wrong reasons.
Balotelli has always in the news for his off the field activities and many Liverpool fans fear it is going to affect their team who have since failed to re produce the sensational form from last season.
The Italy international, who has recently been out injured, could face a further spell on the sidelines after posting a picture on social media that resulted in a charge from the Football Association.
When will Rodgers pull the plug on Mario?
Many Liverpool fans will hope this happens sooner rather than later. With Balotelli leading the line for Liverpool all the pressure is on him.
Last year, Liverpool had Sturridge and Suarez to lead the line, but injury to the former and the departure of the latter has resulted in Brendan Rodgers being bereft of a combo that produced 52 goals.
With Rodgers relying on either Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and, like he did against Manchester United, Raheem Sterling, Liverpool do not pose the same threat.
Former Liverpool midfielder Paul Ince shares the sentiment that Balotelli has to leave Liverpool for the sake of the club, speaking to talkSPORT, he said: "I just watched him play [against Manchester United] and he plays for himself.
"You can see the frustration in the other players. There was a time when he could have put another player in but he didn’t."
Ince not a fan
"It seems like people are frightened to say something to him in case he goes the other way. They keep saying what a great, talented player he is but I’m yet to see it."
He added: "It was a strange decision bringing Balotelli in.
"Brendan [Rodgers] thought he could take that gamble because of losing Luis Suarez to Barcelona but if Jose Mourinho couldn't control him (Balotelli) and Roberto Mancini couldn't control him then I don’t understand why Brendan thought he could."
"I think the quicker Brendan Rodgers sees it and can get rid of him the better, to be honest, and the better it will be for everyone because there is a lack of spirit in that Liverpool side."
Ince is totally correct and he is not the first person to raise the problem of Balotellit at Liverpool. The club simply need to call it quits on Balotelli and sell him even as soon as January.
The signing of Balotelli in the first place was bonkers. Rodgers promotes a strong team ethic but then signs a player who is completely selfish - it did not make sense from the off.
Liverpool have failed this year with poor recruitment so, if they do sell Balotelli, they will be under extreme pressure to make a good addition. If they don't, then Liverpool could be in an even worse position than right now.
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