With a second-place finish in the Premier League at the end of the 2013/2014 season, Liverpool were riding high. The club planned to capitalise on their excellent performance by purchasing talented-but-volatile Milan striker Mario Balotelli. However, despite the 24-year-old showing flashes of form throughout the season – naturally interspersed with his trademark irrelevancy – the club have slumped to tenth in the table.
The continued downturn of Liverpool’s fortunes had led captain Steven Gerald to claim that it is up to Balotelli to save the team’s season in the wake of their Champions League exit. However, with a long history of questionable off-pitch antics and inflammatory on-pitch behaviour, is Balotelli really the consistent and calming player that a football club need in their hour of need? The answer is, probably not.
A Not-So-Calming Influence
Balotelli has proved infamously hard to tame for club bosses. The Italian is famous for his hard-and-fast lifestyle, which includes a passion for women, gambling and partying. Whilst certain players would concede defeat and tone-down their behaviour for the sake of their career, that is not in keeping with Balotelli’s character. Where others would perhaps go on PureMicroGaming.com and see if Microgaming casinos or lucrative casino bonuses could fulfil their gambling needs, Balotelli is not one of them. You can click here to access some of those games yourself.
It is not just Balotelli’s rock-and-roll lifestyle which has caused coaches, managers and captains headaches over the years. The Palermo-native has also had numerous warnings and suspensions due to inappropriate behaviour. Most recently Balotelli was charged by the Football Association for an offensive Instagram post that compared Nintendo character Mario to a Jewish man due to his tendency to collect coins. Although Balotelli originally tried to defend his post, which many consider both racist and anti-Semitic, since the FA’s ruling he has admitted responsibility and publicly apologised.
Not Pitch Perfect
It is not just within his personal life that Balotelli has hit sour notes, his performances on the pitch have also been prone to patches of erratic and disinterested play. Whilst he is capable of great individual performances, and he was only denied by Manchester United’s David De Gea at the weekend, Balotelli is easily distracted and his argumentative personality has consistently prohibited him from both training and preforming to the best of his ability.
Indeed, it is these personality problems which Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni recently cited, in an interview with an Italian magazine, as reasons why, in his words, ‘when he (Balotelli) hangs up his boots, he will realise all the opportunities he wasted’.
However, despite only scoring two goals this season and his team languishing in the table, Balotelli has still only just entered his prime career years. Moreover, with Gerrard still having faith, it appears that the Italian has not yet quite fallen completely out of grace with his new club. Therefore, if he can move on from his personal issues and focus upon the task at hand, Balotelli can still lead Liverpool to a top-four finish.