Following Mario Balotelli’s £16 million move from AC Milan to Liverpool, the excitement levels of the club’s fans over gaining a player like Balotelli has unfortunately reduced. With fans buzzing over this apparent “marquee signing”, expectations were high. After all, getting Mario Balotelli for just £16 million was definitely good business from Liverpool.
Fans knew what Balotelli was capable of, seeing him at his previous Premier League club, Manchester City, for whom he had scored 30 goals in a span of three seasons. Of course his off-field antics came along with him as a package deal. Not to forget, his “Super Mario” nickname was gained only after his surprising actions on and off the pitch. Much of that hasn’t been seen yet except for that little peevish incident with a Basel player which brought him a yellow card.
However, this season for Liverpool, performance wise, he hasn’t lived up to the expectations yet. Sure it has just been a little longer than a month that he signed for the club, but pressure will be on him to score goals – or he might have to lose his starting place in the team to scouser Rickie Lambert, who Brendan Rodgers wants mostly as an “impact player off the bench” and not the lead striker. With Sturridge out due to injury and Lambert in for impact, Balotelli has to take up the responsibility of the leading striker and work accordingly.
Balotelli until now has just scored one goal for the club – against Ludogorets Razgrad in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League at Anfield.
His conversion of strikes to goals has been very little, but it has to be said that he is trying. He hasn’t been as bad as some are making him out to be. The thirst for scoring is definitely there, it just needs to be finished well with the ball in the back of the net!
He definitely has his flashes of brilliance. He can be erratic, but he’s improving. With the absence of striker Daniel Sturridge in the team, pressure is all on Balotelli and the 19-year old Raheem Sterling to score goals. Unlike Luis Suarez, who didn’t need a partner to score goals (but had one anyway, and a mighty good one), Balotelli perhaps does need Sturridge to remove the full pressure off of him. Perhaps with the presence of another full-fledged striker, Balotelli might be more free which might help him score more goals.
Of course Balotelli would be compared to Luis Suarez, who left the club this summer and moved to Barcelona. Mario was seen as a replacement for Suarez, but following the genius display of football by Suarez, it would be a tough task to fill his unfillable shoes. And knowing the way Suarez changed the situation of the club last season, it shouldn’t be hard for Balotelli to understand the reason for the pressure on him. However, anyone coming in after Suarez was going to have it tough.
Maybe all Balotelli needs is more time, the chance to start along with Sturridge once he’s fit. We all know what Balotelli is capable of, and he probably just needs to score to really get going. He’s completely different than the SAS, and all Liverpool fans are just waiting for him to make his own name for the club. He works hard, he links up with the team well sometimes and also tries helping the team defensively.
Brendan Rodgers and the supporters can just hope that Balotelli improves with time and shows his worth and gives the Kop what they want soon. Balotelli isn’t someone conventional so him being inconsistent also shouldn’t be surprising, as long as he scores when he really has to, though pinpointing those times is a hard task.
However, Liverpool need more of goals from him than chances, more skill than antics and more of talent display than hype.