Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Risky business to think Balotelli can replace Luis Suarez - Transfers - Football - The Independent

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
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skies as 007 for first time
Sport
footballThe latest scores and news from Dortmund vs Arsenal and Liverpool vs Ludogorets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Life and Style
techCriminals now targeting e-readers
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
news This video may make you think twice about ever taking the Tube again
Life and Style
A spider is seen in its web on September 16, 2014 in Hohen Meissner, Germany.
tech The 'Spider in Da House' app has been developed by scientists to tackle arachnophobia
Life and Style
fashionIncredibly, it hasn't been branded 'Will.eye.am'
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week