Mario Balotelli has been plagued with on and off field controversies since Jose Mourinho was in charge of him at Inter Milan, and his continued antics has led to his off-loading to Liverpool from AC Milan for just £16 million.
This is a big risk by Brendan Rodgers. At Manchester City, he was reported to have thrown darts at youth team players and notoriously had the fire brigade called to his home after setting off fireworks in his bathroom; but arguably the final straw for then manager Roberto Mancini was when the pair got into a confrontation at the Carrington training ground in January 2013.
If the 24-year old's vices can be suppressed however, this may be the signing of the season.
Rodgers has already held face to face talks with the Italian and the pair agreed on a salary cut with the player agreeing to an £80,000 a week contract with a provisional £40,000 a week if he adheres to a behavioural and performance clause.
If there is anyone who can control this seemingly uncontrollable beast, it is Rodgers. Luis Suarez and Balotelli may have differing behaviour problems, but fundamentally, they are similar.
After biting Branislav Ivanovic in 2013 and subsequently being banned for 10 matches, the Uruguayan striker came back to score 31 goals in 33 game in the Premier league last season, earning himself the player of the season award and a lucrative move to Barcelona.
There were signs last year that Suarez had mastered his demons, there were no standout antics on the field and despite his third ban for biting during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, under Rodgers, it appeared he had left his demons behind him.
Rodgers was always quick to defend Suarez in any circumstance, most notably when he deemed the FA had ‘punished the man’ as opposed to the incident after his 10-match biting ban.
Suarez always held the belief that he was a victim of the media and supporters in England, but in Rodgers he had a manger that was always willing to stand by him despite his behavioural problems.
Victimization by British media is a similarity that Balotelli and Suarez hold. In 2013, after his arrival at the San Siro, Balotelli slammed English media outlets – along with just about everything else in England – holding the belief that they never had anything nice to say about him.
Buying footballers inexpensively due to behavioural problems is something that Brain Clough and Peter Taylor were always eager to do when they were in charge of Nottingham Forest in the 1970s; psychologically managing them in an attempt to control their problems.
In 1977 they bought Kenny Burns from Birmingham City for a fee of £250,000. Burns was a heavy drinking gambler at the time, but went on to win the football writers player of the year award just a year later.
Balotelli’s footballing credentials speak for themselves, in his 50 appearances in total for Inter Milan, the striker scored an impressive 30 goals.
In the modern football era, £16 million for a striker of this calibre is remarkable and if Rodgers can tame Balotelli, this will be one of the best transfer deals this season.
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