Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has described Mario Balotelli as a "spectacular waste of talent".
The controversial Italian striker spent the 2014/15 season at Liverpool after moving from AC Milan for £16m. After scoring just four goals in total last term for the Reds he has been shipped back to AC Milan on loan for this season.
Gerrard, who now plays for LA Galaxy in the MLS after leaving Anfield after 17 season with the club, was speaking in the serialisation of his book 'My Story' in the Daily Mail.
"In my last season, Brendan Rodgers came to me at Melwood one day in mid-August," he wrote.
"He said: 'You know we've missed out on a couple of signings. I'm basically left with no option to have a bit of a gamble.'
"Brendan paused before he spoke again: 'The gamble is Mario Balotelli.' My instant reaction was: 'Uh-oh.'
Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Read the full story here.
After gambling at Manchester's 235 Casino, Balotelli walked away with winnings of £25,000. Feeling generous, he gave a homeless man 'with ginger dreadlocks and a beard' £1,000. Click here for the full story.
3/17 Parking fines
During his time in Manchester, Balotelli racked up £10,000 in parking fines and had his white Maserati impounded 27 times. Once he was pulled over by the police who wanted to enquire why he had £5,000 in cash on his front seat. Balotelli reorted: 'Because I am rich.' Click here for the full story.
Balotelli was 'bored', so threw darts at Manchester City youth team players to pass the time. Click here for the full story.
Balotelli explained prior to Euro 2012 how he would deal with racists: 'I will not accept racism at all. It's unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.'
In a pre-season friendly for AC Milan, two fans ran onto the pitch to demand a selfie with the striker. Rather than shy away like most would in such a situation, Balotelli was more than happy to oblige.
Mario isn't a one trick pony. He can also iron, dance and read - all at the same time. Click here to watch.
For reasons never fully explained, Balotelli once sported a chicken hat. Thankfully it was a trend that never caught on.
Getty Images; Sky News
A bright spark at the body that co-ordinates firework safety material enlisted Balotelli soon after it was reported that some had been set off in the bathroom of his Manchester mansion.
10/17 Why always me?
The day those stories emerged, Balotelli scored for City in the Manchester derby, giving him the perfect opportunity to reveal *that* t-shirt.
11/17 The Queen
The Queen may be wary of Balotelli's return to England. During the World Cup, he said he wanted a kiss from Her Royal Highness should Italy do England a favour by beating Costa Rica. Thankfully for everyone involved, they didn't.
During a Europa League defeat to Dynamo Kiev, Balotelli had to be substituted in the 57th minute with his face swelling up. It emerged afterwards that the Italian is allergic to some types of grass.
During an Inter Milan press conference to announce the appointment of Andrea Stramaccioni as interim-manager, Balotelli interrupted proceedings to say hello. He was enjoying a day-off from Manchester City at the time. Click here to watch.
Balotelli's naked torso was to be one of the defining images of Euro 2012 - but he's not overly keen on celebrating goals. 'I don't celebrate goals, I'm just doing my job,' he infamously said. 'Does a postman celebrate when he delivered the mail?'
Balotelli has always appeared to be well loved by his team-mates. Perhaps it's the pranks he plays, like this one on Edin Dzeko. Click here to watch.
Balotelli was reportedly questioned by police in Italy when he was found taking a look around the grounds of a women's prison in Brescia. Apparently he simply fancied having a look. Click here for the full story.
Balotelli's relationship with former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was a complicated one. It has been described as a father-and-son type relationship - only the sort where they fight each other during training.
EAMONN & JAMES CLARKE
"I'd never met Balotelli but I'd heard all the stories about the indoor fireworks and Jose Mourinho describing him as an 'unmanageable' player.
"I could see that, in the right mood, he was a quality footballer but the rest of his career seemed like a spectacular waste of talent. That was my opinion of Balotelli.
"We got on fine. I still tried to help him and I kept looking for chances to praise him but I could see why Mourinho had been right when he said Balotelli is unmanageable.
"He is very talented with the potential to be world class, but he'll never get there because of his mentality and the people around him. Balotelli's always late, he always wants attention.
"He says the wrong things on social media. For me, he doesn't work hard enough on a daily basis. You're always fighting a losing battle with Balotelli. He does too many things wrong."
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