It’s three years now since Liverpool had to deal with the departure of Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan striker came so close to firing the Reds to the their first Premier League title in the 2013-14 campaign, scoring 31 goals in 33 appearances, but their end-of-season collapse was the catalyst for Suarez to secure a move to Barcelona.
Replacing Suarez was always going to be a tall order. Yet, having received £75 million for his sale, Liverpool supporters probably expected better than Mario Balotelli.
Brendan Rodgers brought the controversial forward to Anfield in a £16m deal from AC Milan, hoping he could revive the Italian’s struggling career, but couldn’t manage to do so.
Balotelli scored just four goals - only one coming in the Premier League - in a forgettable stint at Liverpool.
He returned to AC Milan on loan for the 2015-16 season and signed for French outfit Nice on a free transfer last year.
Balotelli was a flop
It really didn’t work out for Balotelli on Merseyside. But had Rodgers not signed him in 2014, we wouldn’t have got one of the funniest exchanges between a player and his manager in recent memory.
It began when Rodgers, now the manager of Celtic, was asked to name the best player he’s ever coached.
“Mario Balotelli… he was a fantastic player,” Rodgers joked.
Balotelli’s response was just as sarcastic.
“Brendan Rodgers you are also the best manager I ever had😂😘😘. Amazing,” he tweeted.
The player Liverpool wanted after selling Suarez
But if Liverpool had got their way, Balotelli never would have arrived at Anfield.
Rodgers has revealed to talkSPORT that their number one target was Alexis Sanchez, who was still a Barcelona player at the time.
“We felt like Luis was going to move on and we needed to get a world-class operator to go like-for-like,” Rodgers said, per the Daily Mail.
“We finished second in the league playing a great level of football. Players were flexible in how they could play and then it was about trying to make that next step.
“And for that we needed to get a replacement. And we deemed Sanchez to be that one.”
Sanchez would end up signing for Arsenal, where he has been a huge success.
And Liverpool settled for Balotelli. Ouch.