Mario Balotelli has come under a lot of criticism from fans in his career so far, mainly because of his own actions and that is something he has worked hard to erradicate from his game. The stupid actions as far as I can see are gone. He feels loved at Liverpool, and appears to be working very hard in training.
Since the moment he touched down on Merseyside, he was known as the “controversial” striker Mario Balotelli. Not Italy international Mario Balotelli, and I think because of his antics earlier in his career his talents have become under-appreciated.
Not every player can train perfectly and Balotelli certainly does not do that, but the fans that were concerned about his work rate have surely been proved wrong with his displays since he has joined.
Unfortunately for Balotelli his official record is one goal in six games for Liverpool, and none of those have come in the Premier League. Instantly the stats from last season are brought up, and his 9% shots on target ratio. However, this was in an atrocious AC Milan team that lacked quality in pretty much every single position, and suffered without Stefan El Shaarawy who had carried them for a few seasons before.
Of course, there is the attitude problems from his past. We have all heard of the stories of what he gets up to off the pitch, and to be honest I do not care as long as he plays well for the team and contributes to us going forward. Many say that Mario Balotelli is always sulking around the pitch, but I think the 24-year-old sums up this perception of him perfectly himself:
“If I buy a Fiat Uno, I’ll read that, for a man like me, a Ferrari was more suitable. If instead I buy a Ferrari, they’ll write that I should have kept my feet on the ground and bought a Fiat. If I smile, I’m not serious. If I don’t smile, I’m a rich sulker that doesn’t enjoy having the most beautiful job in the world.”
Balotelli has great control of the ball and his hold up play is very good. In fact the best part of his game is his link up play, despite Daniel Sturridge being injured for five of Balotelli’s games, he has gelled really well with the England striker. Against Spurs they worked really well together, because Sturridge enjoys going wide and stretching defences whilst Balotelli makes a run in the box.
This partnership is something that will terrify defences once Sturridge returns, because it offers another dimension to our game. A physical side to our attack that all of the top teams have. Chelsea have Costa, Arsenal have Giroud, City have Dzeko and Tottenham have Adebayor, which shows that Liverpool should surely have that option in their first team. We do, he wears the number 45 shirt.
One of Balotelli’s best assets is his strength, shown during the first six matches by the fact he can hold off any defender that comes up to him, and he actually very rarely gives the ball away. A frustration with him is that sometimes he does take a very long time to distribute the ball, and that does slow down the momentum of our attacks. But this will come with time, he has only been with the team a month and he will certainly improve.
Mario Balotelli is a unique character and that is granted. He is not everybody’s cup of tea, fine -but I think it is time that fans stopped thinking of the past when it comes to analysing his performances for Liverpool. Did we ever do that with Luis Suarez? No, not at any point did we worry about his attitude, because of what he did on the pitch. Let Mario do his thing, and support him the whole way through and he will flourish at our wonderful club.