Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has insisted that Mario Balotelli must improve his work rate if he is to be successful at Anfield.
The Italian forward was at the centre of another flurry of controversy this week after taking Liverpool’s late penalty against Besiktas in the Champions League when stand-in captain Jordan Henderson was meant to be on spot-kick duty.
Yet whilst Rodgers wasn’t keen to get involved in that, unlike Steven Gerrard, who publicly criticised his teammate on the night, the Northern Irishman did say that Balotelli has to improve on his work ethic.
Rodgers on Balotelli
When asked if he was happy with his striker's work rate, Rodgers said, according to ESPN: "No, not really no.
"We need to ensure that whatever level of the game we are playing at we have everyone working as a team and once we got the penalty he stops working.
"So he needs to improve on that facet of his game to play in his position, rather than standing on the side of the football field.
"So he needs to improve on that facet of his game to play in his position, rather than standing on the side of the football field"
"He has contributed against Besiktas, he has got the penalty and scored the goal, but that is what he is paid to do.
"He needs to keep that efficiency in his game and show that he can affect the team whether he is asked to play from the bench or from the start.
With Liverpool seventh in the table most fans on Merseyside are keen to see a shift in emphasis from the whole squad, with Balotelli getting the bulk of the attention due to his relatively poor form in front goal this term.
Since moving to Anfield from AC Milan last summer, the 24-year-old has just one Premier League strike to this name, and though that was what turned out to be the winner against Tottenham Hotspur, it’s hardly a satisfactory return for a man who cost the club £16 million.
With that in mind he could be playing for his future in the next few games, as Rodgers is unlikely to keep him on if he’s not adhering to the instructions set to benefit the team.
Liverpool fans, do you think Balotelli needs to work harder for the team? Does he have a future at Anfield? Let us know in the comments box below...