Last summer when Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers forked out £16million for Mario Balotelli, a player who polarises opinion more than most, it looked like a risk. If he took to the reds like a duck to water then it would be a bargain, however several months later and it is safe to say that hasn’t happened yet.
Whereas last summer Arsene Wenger and Arsenal paid a handsome fee to Newcastle for right back Mathieu Debuchy after seeing Bacary Sagna leave and Carl Jenkinson head out on loan, however injuries have hampered the French right back’s first season in London, and out of the blue Arsenal fans found a rollicking talent in Hector Bellerin take his place in the starting line up.
With the season heading to a close in the next few weeks Bellerin can look back on what has been a highly successful debut campaign in the top flight. Balotelli however will be looking to quickly forget this campaign which has seen him score just one Premier League goal, where 20-year-old Spaniard Bellerin has double that tally.
Breakthrough and blunder
Bellerin’s breakthrough season has been nothing short of brilliant, it took him a few games to get to grips with the league but since those early matches he has gone from strength to strength and it will be harsh on the youngster if he loses his place when Debuchy returns to full fitness.
It is no surprise that, with Dani Alves looking like he’ll be leaving Barcelona this summer, that the Catalan giants are rumoured to be sniffing around the young right back as his long-term replacement, luckily for Arsenal fans a current transfer ban should stop Barca doing that, for a short while at least.
Not so super Mario
Balotelli on the other hand does not have such a high stock at this moment in time, Liverpool will likely say they are not looking to sell the Italian striker having paid a large sum for his services any admission would look bad on the board and manager, however it would not be a surprise to see the much maligned forward leave Anfield in the next transfer window.
On his day Balotelli can be a ferociously talented striker, he tore Germany to pieces in the semi-final of Euro 2012 and put England to the sword in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup. However, he more often than not frustrates and for several reasons it just hasn’t worked out at Liverpool so far.
Playing as a lone-striker for much of the season Balotelli cut an isolated figure, running into the wrong channels and having next to no connection with his team-mates. It says a lot about the Italian’s season that the only game he has looked worth anywhere near £16million was in the 3-0 destruction of Tottenham when he was on the pitch with Daniel Sturridge, unfortunately the pair have not been on the pitch consistently enough to see if that is a partnership that can blossom, perhaps next season if Balotelli stays on Merseyside.
What is unforgivable is that Balotelli, a strong and talented forward, has scored just one Premier League goal in 13 appearances, whereas Gunners right back Bellerin has netted twice in the same number of games.