Liverpool FC have been looking for a new striker all summer, but the potential signing of Mario Balotelli has come out of nowhere. Will it be a good signing?

Liverpool FC have been looking for a striker all summer ever since it became clear that Luis Suarez was not going to play for Liverpool in the 2014-15 season. After a failed medical resulted in a deal for Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy falling apart, the Reds have made enquiries for the likes of Wilfried Bony, Edinson Cavani, Rademel Falcao (albeit on loan) and even former Barcelona, Inter and Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o.

That being said, the potential signing of Mario Balotelli has indeed come out of nowhere. It is especially shocking given the fact that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had himself denied all possibility of Liverpool signing the former Inter, Manchester City and Milan striker would not line up in Liverpool red this upcoming season. So what prompted the sudden change of heart from Brendan Rodgers? Or was Balotelli indeed a potential signing all summer long?

Getting the best out of Luis Suarez after he angled for a move for an entire summer may have been a challenge for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers; and swooping in for Mario Balotelli is evidence enough that Brendan Rodgers likes a challenge. The Premier League does not register players on weekends, and Monday (August 25) is a bank holiday, so were the signing of Mario Balotelli to be confirmed by Tuesday, here are five reasons why the signing of Mario Balotelli would be a good move for both parties:

More ‘physical’ than Sturridge, yet more ‘mobile’ than Lambert

Under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool have been known as a team that was known to release the ball quickly from defence to attack and destroy teams by running at defenders with pace. But the acquisition of Rickie Lambert earlier this summer was seen as Liverpool turning to a more ‘physical’ alternative to the other striking options available to Brendan Rodgers. However, despite Lambert’s success at a team that presses high up the pitch the way Liverpool do, there is no guarantee that he would be a success at Anfield, esp given that he was (at least until now) Liverpool’s next best alternative to Daniel Sturridge.

Standing at 6ft 3in, Mario Balotelli is a physical specimen. The fact that he seems too languid for a setup like the one that exists at Liverpool raises echoes of Dimitar Berbatov at Manchester United. Balotelli may not be known as a someone who is pacy, but he possess the acceleration required to beat defenders fairly easily for pace. This is what makes him a viable ‘physical’ alternative to Daniel Sturridge, yet is mobile enough either to play in a variety of playing formations.

Balotelli is more versatile than the general narrative suggests

The general perception about Mario Balotelli is that he is more effective playing as a lone striker up front – which is probably true. This has been cited as one of the main reasons why signing him may ‘upset’ Daniel Sturridge. However, he has shown at Manchester City during his many appearances as a substitute, that he is capable of playing in a front two, either ahead of the other striker, or a few yards behind him, in the ‘hole’ in front of the defence.

In fact, he is often seen dropping deep to help create attacking moves that (to the irritation of his previous managers like Cesare Prandelli) no one is there to finish. At Liverpool, however, he will be supported Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and even Jordan Henderson making late runs into the box. This is something Luis Suarez did on a regular basis at Anfield, and if Mario Balotelli did this half as well as Suarez did, then signing him will be a good decision for Liverpool.

Experienced at the top level yet has a lot to prove

Mario Balotelli - AC Milan and Italy striker | Liverpool FC - Five Reasons Why Signing Mario Balotelli Could Be a Good Move

Mario Balotelli has never been far away from controversy, or the referee’s book

Mario Balotelli’s resume includes experience with both Milan clubs as well as a stint with current Premier League champions Manchester City. He has been a part of teams that have won 3 straight Serie A titles (including a treble in one season), an FA Cup and a Premier League title with Manchester City, both trophies being won after more than 40 years. This would normally be an impressive set of honours for most players, especially for someone who is 24 years old. The presence of trophies in one’s cabinet does not make someone a great player, not even someone as phenomenally talented as Mario Balotelli.

Supporters at Inter Milan turned on him during the end of his tenure at the club, while he was more than adequately replaced at Manchester City by Alvaro Negredo (albeit 6 months later). Milan may have sold him more due to his presence in the squad on high wages affecting their efforts to streamline their squad; but Liverpool’s ability to sign him (possibly) without much competition points to a lack of takers for him. Balotelli may have a relatively bloated resume at this point in time, but he needs to prove himself worthy of the labels that have been attached to him.

A clean slate for Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli left Inter Milan for Manchester City ostensibly to reunite with the manager that gave him his professional debut. When he left Manchester City, however, the general perception was that Balotelli would eventually succeed as a Milan player due to the presence of family in close quarters, while playing for a club he supported as a boy. Going back home seemed to have worked almost immediately, with Balotelli having scored the goals that pushed Milan towards Champions League football; but after just 19 months as a Milan player, it does not look like such a good idea.

Mario Balotelli may not have the alibi of age anymore, but at the age of 24, he has played enough football to learn from his past. Those who are closer to him often claim that he has matured, if anyone is willing to listen. In fact, Juventus midfielder and Italy teammate Andrea Pirlo holds a high opinion of Balotelli, claiming that Super Mario will eventually become the player he can be if he is in the right club at the right age under the right kind of setup. Joining a team that is on an upward curve under a manager who arrived in difficult team and has built a strong team ethic with the help mercurial (and previously not fully trusted) players like Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, among others, could be the place to be for Super Mario.

Taking the media’s focus away from other Liverpool players

Mario Balotelli - AC Milan and Italy striker | Liverpool FC - Five Reasons Why Signing Mario Balotelli Could Be a Good Move

Mario Balotelli diverting media coverage from other Liverpool players may be a good thing

For all of Mario Balotelli’s faults that have been, to some extent, exaggerated by the media, he has never been known for falling out with players in his own team. In fact, he had gotten along very well with his colleagues at Manchester City (aside from a reported ‘bust-up’ with then manager Roberto Mancini).

It is fair to assume that Mario Balotelli’s larger than life image in the media may actually help his teammates. Thus far this summer, all talk around Liverpool has censored around Luis Suarez – either if he would stay at Liverpool, or if Liverpool will be able to adequately replace him. This writer itself has already mentioned Luis Suarez half a dozen times.

Thanks to the strong links between Balotelli and Liverpool, all talk around Liverpool has instantly shifted to the man himself. Most stories surrounding Liverpool have either been about his chequered past, or whether he would fit in as a Liverpool player in the future. In fact, there has been more coverage devoted to the potential signing of Mario Balotelli than to Liverpool’s impending trip down the M62 to face Manchester City on Monday night. This can only be a good thing for all parties – Balotelli isn’t someone who seems bothered by media coverage (unless it’s from The Sun), while the rest of Liverpool’s squad can continue to their job as usual.

What helps both Mario Balotelli and Liverpool is that Balotelli is not thrust forward as a leader at Liverpool the way he was at Milan. Moreover, despite suggestions otherwise, he has previously played the role of a third choice striker at Manchester City and was never known to complain about lack of game time there.

Mario Balotelli may well be a successful signing for Liverpool, or like Victor Moses, exhibiting a ‘lazy’ attitude may see him being left completely out of sight. His addition to the squad cannot worsen the squad – he will either not be seen on the field if he does not perform well, or will massively improve the squad by scoring goals regularly to make a huge difference to Liverpool’s position in the Premier League table at the end of the season. Liverpool have indeed been desperately been looking for a striker until a little more than a week before the end of August, and as Mark Lawrenson says, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

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