Over the past month, the average Liverpool fan could have been forgiven thinking Mario Balotelli had begun to turn his season around. That he might even have a future at Anfield. He’d continued to show the willingness to work that he had since arriving at the club, but more importantly he’d scored a few goals and his movement and link-up play seemed hugely improved.
He still didn’t bring the kind of fluid attacking qualities a fit Daniel Sturridge might have or that a player like Luis Suarez certainly did last season, but he seemed if not a completely different player at least a slightly changed one. One who could offer his own set of attacking qualities and had adjusted his approach just enough to make those qualities work in this Liverpool side under this Liverpool manager.
Then he managed to get caught up in a moment of penalty drama that never should have been—and not because of Mario Balotelli, since with Steven Gerrard out injured there was only ever one player who should have been taking penalties in his place and it wasn’t Jordan Henderson. Then his manager criticised his work rate despite his greatly improved play. And then he was left on the bench against Burnley.
His subsequent Instagram posting and cryptic suggestion that "someone" doesn’t like him will, sadly, only put his Liverpool future in further doubt. Looking on from outside, it’s easy to understand the player’s frustration. He’s worked hard at improving the parts of his game that made him such a poor fit for this Liverpool side early in the season, yet he once again found himself frozen out against Burnley.
It might not have been a wise comment for Balotelli to share, but it’s still fairly easy to understand and to sympathise with it. Mario Balotelli has, over the past month, looked a quite different player to the one who arrived at the club in August. It appears, though, that that isn’t enough and that there still isn’t much of a place for him in this Liverpool side. Why always him. So it goes.