Noel and I have some tactical reservations related to a number of factors but Elizabeth approves of the transfer on a personal level. Nobody denies the talent within the man known as Mario Barwuah Balotelli but there are the stories, rumours, half-truths, and so much more surrounding the player. There are the doubts that Balotelli will be the right replacement for one of the world's best as well the hope that the current setup at Liverpool will see a striker with devastating weapons flourish in a league that he's already familiar with.
Even if Balotelli does not quite live up to expectations at Liverpool, there will be moments of genuine brilliance and goals that can only be scored by a player with gifts that belong at the very highest level. It may be a penalty under extreme pressure in such a crucial moment of a game or a long range strike that should not even be considered as a legitimate distance for shooting but ends up rocketing into the back of the net. There will be magic moments from a player whose physical and technical gifts should combine to intoxicate the Liverpool fanbase in tandem with confounding opposing defenders.
Why Always Me? That should be the slogan of defenders at home and abroad as Balotelli charges at them with pace, switching the ball to his right foot for the most emphatic of finishes. Those who can remember the left-footed power of John Arne Riise or the thunderous offensiveness contained within the boots of Gabriel Batistuta among others know what such finishes can do. They drag you out of your seat and force one's voice to concoct such sounds that seem unintelligible but communicate the surprise as well as elation of witnessing beautiful violence inflicted upon a football with the sole purpose of both propelling your beloved team forward and pushing a rival into the shade.
I only rate Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo above me, but that can change this season. I am playing good football with Milan and I want to be number one in Europe. To do that, I must perform well in the Champions League.
Mario Balotelli, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, Lazar Marković, and Adam Lallana. This should be a sinister six beyond even Spiderman's heroic capabilities. Balotelli doesn't even need to be this world class superstar who competes with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Sure, he can aim for global recognition as one of the game's elite performers, a player who automatically comes to mind when discussing the top ten or top five players in the world. Such words reveal a belief but at Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool, actions on the training pitch and matchdays reveal not only where a player is in world football but whether he retains his place in the Liverpool side. Balotelli just needs to do what he does best consistently and score goals. Others can do the talking.
His goal record is strange because if 88 goals in 222 matches is unfulfilled potential at 24 years of age then the thought of finally blossoming should be a frightening prospect for the opposition. Yes, he scores penalties but also wins a lot of them. Yes, he takes too many shots from distance but he has scored some unimaginable long shots and is adept at them. Taking a look at his time in AC Milan, he's played 43 league games and scored 26 goals along with providing 6 assists. 16 yellow cards. One red card. His overall record is 30 goals in 54 matches for AC Milan and it's a solid record worthy of respect. A similar goalscoring record at Liverpool would justify this surprising move.
The yellow cards reveal a considerable indiscipline on the pitch and this clearly hints at a figure who can prove to be a liability on the field. Mario Balotelli is the replacement for Luis Suárez, a player who also recorded 16 yellow cards in league action over the past two seasons but that was over 66 league matches where he scored 54 goals along with creating 17 goals for others. Even with such periodic indiscipline and hunger for controversy, Liverpool's former number seven consistently delivered for the club with a reduction in yellow cards and needless tangles with opponents. If there was one thing Balotelli could improve it would not be his discipline but his focus.
An increased focus under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers would have cumulative benefits related to Mario Balotelli's performances on the pitch and one can sense a sadness to Balotelli along with a childlike zest for fun and games. His character is endearing but the lack of focus under pressure leads to silly things that result in needless cards. The lack of focus on the training field may hinder his progress in developing his game and if there is a place for a player to develop his attacking game then it is at Liverpool under the auspices of Brendan Rodgers. The lack of focus has allowed Liverpool to sign a player for a transfer fee and wage package the club should have no business offering to a player of Balotelli's talents.
Sometimes Mario Balotelli causes more trouble for himself than others and in football, the notion of making one's detractors feel silly for vehement criticism is a powerful one. Players often speak of "proving the doubters wrong" and managers have been reported to use press criticism as a self-motivating tool. Zvonmir Boban doesn't think Balotelli was worth the time and the fuss. That's fine. Boban was a player of considerable technical ability and an AC Milan legend. Balotelli's time at Liverpool should force Boban to watch on with envy, wondering what could have been.
Liverpool's attack is effervescent and relentless. Really relentless. There is no time for a player to remain offside or dawdle. Goals are there for the taking. Balotelli can choose to be one of the sinister six or the attacking kingpin, plump from an endless feast of goals. Liverpool will provide the stage, the history, the opportunity, the support, the care, the platform, the development, the understanding, the environment, and the competition needed for most quality players to thrive in attack. Liverpool are set up in a way that prioritises attack and that should be perfect for a player with Balotelli's gifts.
Balotelli deserves a chance, a real one. One where he's not unfairly judged as the source for every ill in the team. One where he's not racially abused one minute and supported the next. One where he's not treated inconsistently by management. One where his mistakes aren't outrageously magnified because it's the easy and why bother with actual analysis? That's not to say that there won't be legitimate criticisms nor is there are hint that he won't get the necessary support at Liverpool because he will from players, fans, and management.
Mario Balotelli is already super but sometimes for others to understand that too, he needs to show it. If he needs help getting there, who better than Brendan Rodgers and the assortment of dedicated players desirous of growth at Liverpool Football Club?
Get ready for Super Mario.
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