Few players have the watchful eye of the media on them as incessantly as Mario Balotelli. For better or for worse, the striker attracts a lot of attention, and while much of this attention seems disproportionate to the types of activities he gets up to, it also presents an opportunity to for a media savvy manager to use that attention to tweak the overall perception of the player.
Brendan Rodgers has regularly praised Balotelli since the Italian joined the club just under a month ago, but as part of this praise he's engaged in a bit of a media game in which he attempts to present a different, softer side of the striker. Rodgers' Balotelli isn't up for shenanigans; he's a nice young man who is interested in absorbing everything he can about his new surroundings.
"He’s a boy that has really looked into the history of the club," Rodgers explained. "He understands, coming here, the great strikers of the past. We’ve spoken about [Luis] Suárez and his time here. He’s well in tune with not only the history of the club, but of Liverpool.
"Remember, he’s still young. He still wants to learn. When I spoke to him when I first met him, he still had this keenness to learn."
It's a side of Balotelli the media seems less interested in because it doesn't involve fistfuls of cash or women's prisons, but Rodgers seems determined to make Balotelli's off-pitch positive qualities known. The truth about Balotelli is likely somewhere in between the two media extremes, but Rodgers refuses to give into the suggestion that the player is burdensome in any way.
"In general, you’ll always have players that are low maintenance and some that are high maintenance, for different reasons," Rodgers continued. "But he’s a good boy. You can see that he’s prepared to work."
High maintenance or not, in his short time on Merseyside the striker has already begun to play the media game on his own terms. Whether he's wishing children good luck on their first day of school or allegedly donating huge sums of money to a dog shelter destroyed by fire, Balotelli is certainly doing his best to prove Brendan Rodgers' faith in him right.