It came as something of a surprise when Liverpool signed Mario Balotelli from AC Milan for £16 million in August 2014.
Brendan Rodgers signed nine players with the £75 million generated from selling Luis Suarez to Barcelona that summer, but none raised as many eyebrows as the Italian striker.
Despite coming off the back of the most prolific season of his career, Balotelli was unlikely to feature on the transfer wish-lists of many Reds fans.
Given his enigmatic behaviour on and off the pitch, their reservations were understandable.
Rodgers, however, was thrilled to complete a deal that represented “outstanding value for the club” at the time.
“There is no doubting Mario’s ability,” he said upon signing the ex-Manchester City star.
“He is a world-class talent and someone who, for such a young age, has vast experience of playing at the very highest level.
“He has scored goals in the Barclays Premier League, in Italy, in the Champions League and for his country at international level.
“I believe we have the infrastructure, culture and environment to get the best out of him and help him achieve his true potential.”
Well, it’s safe to say they didn’t.
Balotelli - now with Nice - managed only four goals in 28 appearances across all competitions before he was loaned back to Milan for the following season.
Steven Gerrard - a trusted advisor to Rodgers during his last few seasons at Liverpool - predicted the 28-year-old would struggle despite his talent.
In fact, the Anfield legend had just two words to say to his manager upon learning Balotelli was coming.
STEVEN GERRARD'S REACTION
Per the Mirror, Gerrard wrote in his 2016 book My Story: “In my last season, Brendan Rodgers came to me at Melwood one day in mid-August. We had a chat on the training pitch.
“He said, ‘You know we’ve missed out on a couple of signings. I’m basically left with no option but to have a bit of a gamble.’
“Brendan paused before he spoke again: ‘The gamble is Mario Balotelli.’ My instant reaction was, ‘Uh-oh.’
“I’d never met Balotelli but I’d heard all the stories about the indoor fireworks and Jose Mourinho describing him as an ‘unmanageable’ player.
“I could see that, in the right mood, he was a quality footballer but the rest of his career seemed like a spectacular waste of talent. That was my opinion of Balotelli.”
While Balotelli comes across as someone who doesn’t care much for his reputation, he was never likely to win over his captain at Liverpool.
That said, Gerrard insists his critical view of him was nothing personal.
“There was no friction between us. We got on fine. I still tried to help him and I kept looking for chances to praise him,” he added.
“He is very talented with the potential to be world class, but he’ll never get there because of his mentality and the people around him.”News Now - Sport News