Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Risky business to think Balotelli can replace Luis Suarez

The fiery Italian can be even more trouble than departed Uruguayan yet does not guarantee the same amount of success on the pitch

Having let go of Luis Suarez, Liverpool today agreed a fee for another colourful character, Mario Balotelli, who became such a headline-grabber for his antics while at Manchester City.

Liverpool have agreed to pay Milan £16m to bring the Italian striker back to the Premier League and are holding talks with his agent Mino Raiola over personal terms.

Unfortunately for Liverpool the comparisons with Suarez are a little forced – Balotelli may be just as prone to the spectacular and the unpredictable but he is unlikely to score 30 goals a season – he managed only 30 in two-and-a-half years at City. He will also have to make major changes to his style of play if he is to lead Liverpool’s high-energy pressing game as Suarez did; and neither does he lead the family-orientated life of suburban sobriety away from the pitch as the Uruguayan did.

Neither does he appear to have been Liverpool’s first choice to replace Suarez. If Alexis Sanchez had chosen Merseyside over London; or if Loïc Rémy’s transfer had gone through, Liverpool and Milan would never have reached this point.

The consolation for the club’s supporters is that it will not be dull and at £16m, even if they get just a couple of seasons of excitement from him before 19-year-old Belgian international Divock Origi returns from his loan spell back at Lille and matures into the top striker Brendan Rodgers believes he can become, then it will have been worth it.

Read more: The best Balotelli memes
Barca claim they paid £65m for Suarez
Suarez joins Barcelona

If a £90,000-a-week five-year contract is agreed in time and the 24-year-old is registered before midday on Friday he could make his debut against Manchester City on Monday. The opponents may be an early reminder of the reasons he gave for wanting to leave the country in 2013.

When Balotelli moved to Milan in January of that year, after two-and-a-half years at Manchester City, he was asked what it was he didn’t like about England: “The press, the weather, the food, the way you drive. That’s it,” was his reply (crashing his Audi R8 three weeks after arriving in Manchester might have put him off English roads). They, like the other three gripes, will not have changed much since he has been away.

Video: The latest transfer news

But in that grumpy presentation he also praised the atmosphere and quality of what he referred to several times as the “amazing” Premier League, and Rodgers will be able to tap into that, getting him right for big matches where he tended not to let Manchester City down.

 

He also represents a more viable investment than Samuel Eto’o who might have been perfect for Liverpool’s style of play five years ago when Barcelona sold him to appease Pep Guardiola, but not at his current age.

Eto’o is another potentially difficult player to manage and his fall-outs have sometimes involved team-mates. Balotelli’s don’t usually cause too much dressing room discord.

It could still be a bumpy ride, however, especially if the form of some of the other Liverpool players signed in their £101m summer spending spree outperform him and limit his first team involvement – an idle Balotelli is twice as dangerous as a motivated regularly-starting one.

Luis Suarez in action during his Barcelona debut this week Luis Suarez in action during his Barcelona debut this week At Milan he seemed to have found a coach who could get the best out of him in Clarence Seedorf. He scored the late penalty against Verona that insured Seedorf won his first match in charge in January 2014; he even dedicated the goal to his new manager.

A bond was emerging and the Dutch coach defended his striker against criticism when he cried on the bench after being taken off in a 3-1 defeat to Napoli a month later, understood to be upset after being confirmed as the father of the child of a former girlfriend. But Seedorf was out of a job by June. Going the same way as the last coach to put his faith in Balotelli, Roberto Mancini.

Rodgers should at least have enough alternative attacking options to not need to make the same mistake. And if against the odds he makes a long-term success of the transfer, it will go down as one of his greatest coaching triumphs.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'