Liverpool has agreed to a 16 million pound fee with AC Milan to bring striker Mario Balotelli back to the Premier League. The deal is not confirmed as of yet, as the club and player still need to agree to personal terms. The Italian forward left Manchester City in January of 2013 and moved to Italy, where he scored 18 goals in 41 appearances for AC Milan. He will now try to help replace the production of Luis Suarez.
During the summer transfer window, Liverpool lost their star striker Luis Suarez to FC Barcelona for the biggest purchase of the summer. He was absolutely crucial to their second place finish in England, leading the league in goals and earning Player of the Year in the Premier League. His loss will be felt by Liverpool, but they have now brought in Balotelli to try to replace the polarizing striker.
While Balotelli is full of potential, he has failed to reach it because of various behavioral issues and arguments with multiple managers. Inter Milan bought the striker, who grew up as a die-hard AC Milan fan, from lower level division Italian side Lumezanne when he was only 17 years old. Manager Roberto Mancini brought him in to the first team, but when Mancini left and was replaced by Jose Mourinho, his first team appearances started to diminish. In 2010, Mourinho and the striker’s distain for each other grew to the point where the club felt the need to move on from the player, even though Mourinho also left the summer after Inter’s treble winning season.
In the summer of 2010, Balotelli’s first Inter manager Roberto Mancini decided to reunite with the attacker and bring him to England and Manchester City for around 22 Million Euros. He was part of City’s new plan to become a part of the elite European clubs by throwing around their financial weight and purchase all the talent they could. His English career started off well and he helped City win their first Premier League title in a long time during 2012, making 32 appearances and scoring 17 goals. That club success led to a very successful Euro 2012 campaign, where he helped lead Italy to a second place finish.
Coming into the 2012-2013, it seemed Balotelli was poised to finally become the superstar most people thought he would be. For whatever reason, he did not reach that status and his relationship with Mancini began to deteriorate. In 2013, he scored only three goals and did not make many appearances. As a result, he was sold in January to his favorite childhood club AC Milan.
Balotelli is coming into a Liverpool side to help replace another very controversial striker in Luis Suarez. Manager Brendan Rogers will have his hands full again trying to get the best out of the Italian. He will likely slide into a striker role, playing alongside breakout star Daniel Sturridge to try to capture some of the magic Sturridge and Suarez created last season when they were the two top scorers in the EPL. On paper, the combination of those two strikers, Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard, and fellow new signing Adam Lallana will be a great attacking stable for Rogers. The problem is that many other talented managers have tried to realize Balotelli’s potential with many problems along the way. Getting the best out of the striker might be an even greater challenge for Rogers than dealing with the constant problems Suarez brought to the club.
Liverpool are now negotiating personal terms with AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli now that both clubs have agreed on a 16 million pound fee. His signing is in part to replace the polarizing Luis Suarez, who left this summer for Barcelona even with a four-month ban from football hanging over his head. The Merseyside club has spent more than any other club in England and adding Balotelli just adds to their already massive summer spending spree.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius