Pitchside

5 reasons the Mario Balotelli deal makes sense for Liverpool

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The knee-jerk reaction to news of Liverpool’s attempt to sign Mario Balotelli has been to question the sanity of those in charge at Anfield.

Isn’t Balotelli that reckless and feckless liability who nearly burned his house down with an indoor firework display at Manchester City and becomes embroiled in controversy wherever he plays?

[MILAN CONFIRM TALKS TO SELL BALOTELLI TO LIVERPOOL]

Yes, undeniably. But there is a reason that clubs keep persisting with the Italy international. Here we explain why Liverpool’s pursuit of one of the most talked-about stars in world football makes perfect sense.

1. Liverpool desperately need a striker

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Let’s start with the most obvious point. Having sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona this summer, Liverpool are down a world-class centre-forward and though Rickie Lambert works hard and was born on Merseyside – two traits likely to endear him to the Liverpool faithful – he is not among the top echelon of strikers in world football. Balotelli, on his day, is, and with Liverpool having pulled out of a deal to sign Loic Remy due to concerns over his medical, Brendan Rodgers has a gaping spot to fill in his squad.

2. Balotelli can fit into Liverpool’s system

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There are suggestions Balotelli is not the right kind of player for Liverpool, who rely on enthusiastic players who like to press from the front – rather at odds with Balotelli’s reputation as a player for whom elbow grease is a foreign concept. Furthermore, Liverpool have been using Daniel Sturridge as a loan striker and Balotelli will not dislodge him. However, the Reds could revert to the diamond formation which saw Suarez join Sturridge in a central role for the second half of last season to great effect, using Sturridge and Balotelli in tandem and reducing the need for the latter to be haring around the pitch and harassing defenders.

3. Rodgers might be able to get the best out of him

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Brendan Rodgers’ record in the transfer market is rather mixed, but his record of bringing the best out of his players at Liverpool is undeniably impressive. Quite aside from somehow convincing Suarez to stay last summer and then coaxing one of the great individual campaigns out of the striker, one only needs to look at the way Raheem Sterling has become one of England’s most devastating forwards and Philippe Coutinho one of the Premier League’s most delicious playmakers to appreciate Rodgers’ qualities when it comes to talent management. Balotelli fell out with the famously abrasive Roberto Mancini during his time at City but Rodgers is a rather more malleable and generous figure who will not rub up against the Italian.

4. It would be a commercial triumph

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When Suarez set off for Barcelona, it took Liverpool weeks to pull down the huge poster of their former hero from one of Anfield’s walls. Suarez took some star quality with him to Catalunya and it has not been replaced by the likes of Lazar Markovic and Alberto Moreno, as interesting as those signings may be. A return to the Champions League means increased global exposure for Liverpool and Balotelli would give them a suitably starry individual to help sell shirts – he is an iconic footballer and an advertiser’s dream.

5. He will score goals

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No one would be able to sustain the argument that Balotelli is as prolific a striker as Sturridge or as deadly a forward as Suarez, but his record has still been unfairly maligned at times. Although 2012-13 was pretty much a write-off at City as he fell out with Mancini, his overall record of 30 goals in 80 games wasn’t exactly terrible, especially for a young man in a foreign country, and he has netted 30 in 54 for Milan despite the team’s awful slump in fortunes. Even at Inter, as a precocious teenager, he had a record of 28 goals in 80 matches. Balotelli has another 13 in 33 for Italy and if he does move to Anfield he can be expected to make a serious contribution to Liverpool’s goal tally as they seek to emulate last season's potency in front of goal.

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