Liverpool Must Sell Controversial Balotelli Now - He's Not Good Enough
As Mario Balotelli laboured around the Old Trafford pitch this afternoon, repeatedly trying and failing to beat De Gea in goal, something was perfectly clear: the Italian international is nowhere near the standard needed to succeed as a Premier League goalscorer.
When the infamous forward arrived at Liverpool this summer, there was much hope amongst the Anfield faithful that Balotelli would replace at least some of the attacking prowess displayed by the departed Luis Suarez. Indeed, after a promising showing for Italy at the World Cup, there was a general optimism that the striker could replicate the something-out-of-nothing aspect of Suarez's play and form a productive relationship with striking partner Daniel Sturridge. Whilst the latter hasn't been possible due to the England forward's injury, the only way Balotelli has appeared similar to Suarez in any fashion whatsoever is through controversial incidents on and off the pitch.
When a player consistently performs at a world class standard, it is far easier for fans to offer their support, ensuring others that the man is question is very much a victim rather than a culprit. This extends throughout football; such is the fickle nature of club fan bases. West Ham fans, for instance, quickly labelled Ravel Morrison as a 'troubled genius' after his stunning solo goal against Spurs last season. A year later, after two fairly unsuccessful loan spells away from the club, he is referred to as a worthless, reckless - a crook.
The issue in Mario Balotelli's case, therefore, is that he gives Liverpool fans nothing to support. As he sulks about the turf, criticising teammates as he fails to convert chances, the 24-year-old should be reminded that his previous three clubs have sold him without hesitation. And while his countless controversial antics hardly help matters, this is not why clubs are so keen to put him back on the transfer list; it's because he's simply not good enough. If Balotelli already had seven or eight Premier League goals to his name, do you think Liverpool fans would give the slightest bit of attention of meaningless actions such as shirt-swapping at half time? They wouldn't.
Hype created by the odd 30-yard screamer along with tales of handing out £20 notes to strangers does little to disguise the cold hard facts: without penalties Mario Balotelli averages seven goals per season since 2011/12.
With the January transfer window approaching, Liverpool's best bet would be to cut their ties with the ex-City striker while he's still just about marketable. Despite numerous chances to prove himself already, an ambitious club is bound to give another opportunity to a player who at least has a high profile, if not a high skillset. In return, the Merseyside club can reinvest the income on a forward who knows what it takes to put the ball in the net in England's top division.