Personally I think he is maybe a little more risk than any other signing because of his history. That being said, is he any more of a risk than if we kept Suarez? Had we not sold Suarez, we would not be benefiting from his undoubted ability until the end of October and no guarantee he wouldn’t have further behavioural issues in the future. We had been linked with Falcao who suffered a big injury. He has not really recovered from this it seems and I think it would be a bigger and more costly risk signing him for a year on loan.
Another point is that Mario is not coming into Liverpool as the ‘number 1’ striker. Sturridge is still our main striker but there is a ‘risk’ he will be out for a number of games due to ‘injury’ particularly if we didn’t get another quality striker and have no option but to play him in games where now Liverpool can rotate a bit more. I have no doubt that Mario will (or at least has the potential to) outscore Lambert and Borini. I know Balotelli has had a few disciplinary issues but most of those are from ‘tackling’ and trying to win the ball back or from being hacked down and kicked all over the pitch. The first shows a determination to get the ball back for the team and the second shows how much of a threat to the opposition he is. Not saying he has handled each situation well but much of his ‘behavioural issues’ happened in his Inter and Man City days and unfortunately that ‘baggage’ is still a proverbial albatross around his neck and constantly brought up.
Regardless of what Balotelli does, the media automatically sensationalises everything. Lets not forget though that he is just 24 and much of his antics are not very different from that of many other young lads. He has also done a LOT of positive things too and is renown for being ‘generous’ to charities and often makes random gifts. He once pulled into a garage and told everyone to fill their cars up and paid the bill, he gave £1000 to a homeless man he passed, he gives a lot of his salary to charity….
I know he may seem somewhat disinterested and distant in some matches but how many Strikers can seem ‘quiet’ but suddenly spring to life. I do think the environment is very important to Mario. LFC’s ‘family’ environment, I think, is probably the the best type of environment for Mario. The likes of BR of the pitch and Gerrard on the pitch will be important to Balotellis success and development and will keep him ‘grounded’. The other aspect is that Mario is ‘growing up’. He is no longer a ‘lad’ but an engaged man now. It has been said that one day someone will buy Mario at the right time – maybe that time is now. He is young enough to learn but old enough to leave the immaturity behind…
I also think Mario is more than aware of the opportunity he has to prove his critics wrong. I am sure he realises that if things don’t work out well for him, he may not have many more chances to play for a top club and compete for top honours and add to his medal haul.
At Milan he was the main and often lone striker which meant that defenders could pay more attention to him yet he still managed 30 goals in 54 matches. At Liverpool it is likely he will partner Sturridge as well as having Sterling, Coutinho, Markovic etc for defenders to worry about. He brings unpredictability, strength, pace and goals. He has the ability to score from free kicks too and just as spectacular as Suarez. He is not just a box striker but capable of scoring from range. Balotelli also registered 6 Assists last year, Sturridge had 7. This shows that he is also more of a team player than people think. Falcao for example had 0! Given the choice I would rather have Balotelli in my team than have to play against him – just ask England!
I know he is no angel but the reality is there are not many bigger named Strikers available and certainly none in that price bracket. Our chances of competing for a top 4 place as well as a chance for silverware in one of the cup competitions have increased by his addition. Brendan spoke that 2 years ago he would not have had the infrastructure in place to take this ‘risk’ although I believe we were not in position to even enquire to get Balotelli. Signing him is a signal of intent as much as an indication of where we are now as a Football Club. I don’t believe AC Milan would entertain the idea of Mario leaving if they were financially secure and could offer Champions League football. I also believe that Balotelli would not be joining a club that are not a title challenger and playing at the top level in Europe. Fans wanted a Marquee signing after the loss of Suarez and there is no doubt that Mario is of that Calibre. He is definitely a genius – flawed genius maybe but like Dalglish says ‘Players who are touched with genius have idiosyncrasies. It’s what makes them a genius in the first place. It’s in their make-up. They are different on the pitch because they are different off it’. If King Kenny backs this decision to sign, who are we to argue?
Considering the fee, £16m doesn’t sound that much of a gamble for a 24yr old Striker who has an EPL winners medal, FA Cup winners medal, CL winners medal and 4 Serie A winners medals too. He has a proven goal scoring record at the top level in both the English and Italian leagues as well as internationally for Italy. There is no doubting this mans ability but just needs to add consistency to his game. BR has a proven track record of developing youngsters and bringing consistency to their game. Lets not forget he turned Sturridge into a world class Striker who also was difficult to manage. There is also no doubting that Balotelli can be a match winner too. I believe it would be a bigger risk NOT to sign Balotelli.
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