Liverpool have finally found their replacement for Luis Suarez - who joined Barcelona earlier in the summer - after reaching an agreement with AC Milan for striker Mario Balotelli. The club have also monitored both Radamel Falcao and former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o over the past few weeks, prior to Milan accepting their bid for the Italian international.
According to reports in the English media, Liverpool will pay a £16m fee for the Italian striker. Although negotiations are still taking place to agree personal terms with the player, Balotelli has already said his farewells in Italy. He will fly to Merseyside tomorrow to undergo his medical and sign a five-year contract with the English club.
The club website announced earlier today, “Mario Balotelli left Milanello’s sporting center at 13:30 local time, after saying goodbye to his team-mates. Before leaving the premises, the striker has said goodbye to members of Milan’s press office.”
He has already played in the Premier League during his time at Manchester City, recording 23 goals whilst at the club. Despite Balotelli’s disciplinary issues and off-pitch conduct, the Italian international will be able to deliver under manager Brendan Rodgers. He, after all, knows how to bite back.
While it’s hard to compare Suarez’s numbers with Balotelli, the Italian did do a good job for Milan last season, scoring 14 goals in his 30 Serie A appearances. This is especially good considering that AC Milan finished 8th after a season full of disasters and disappointments.
Furthermore, Balotelli’s goal-scoring record during his time in Italy is surprisingly impressive. Since his debut in 2013, no player has scored more Serie A goals than Balotelli (26), and only Sturridge (30) and Suarez (37) have scored more Premier League goals during the same period.
There is certainly a question mark over whether he would fit the Reds’ style as Rodgers is keen on playing a high pressing, counterattacking game. However, he is not as lazy as some of his critics want you to believe.
Producing seven interceptions and winning ten tackles, ‘Super Mario’ is on the same defensive level as Daniel Sturridge. Furthermore, Balotelli has plenty of Champions League experience, as he not only played at this level but actually won the competition during his time at Inter Milan. At the age of 24, Balotelli has also won one Premier League title, the FA Cup, three Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia.
Brendan Rodgers needs to rely on somebody who makes stuff happen both on and off the pitch. Balotelli will have to work on his sometimes lazy attitude and make sure to work harder than he did last season. But with Mario Balotelli in your squad, fun things can happen, as he is a unique talent.