Liverpool have completed the £16million signing of Mario Balotelli, and Brendan Rodgers believes he has landed a bargain.
The Reds had their offer for the Italian international accepted by Milan last week, and the player is thought to have passed a medical on Merseyside on Friday before returning home. He was back in the country on Monday afternoon, and after agreeing personal terms, he has now signed a long-term contract with last season’s Premier League runners-up.
“I’m happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake,” said Balotelli. “I wanted to go to Italy but I realised it was a mistake. English football is generally better. English football is beautiful. Liverpool are one of the best teams here in England. The football is very good here. It’s a great team with young players, and that’s why I came here.”
Opinion amongst pundits and supporters appears to be split on the 24-year-old, who endured a rocky time in his previous spell in England at Manchester City. Although he helped the Blues end a 35-year wait for silverware with the FA Cup in 2011 and then the title the following season, his time in Manchester was blighted with controversy and incident.
His off-field antics often saw him hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, whilst his discipline on the pitch was also cause for concern before he was offloaded to Milan. However, Rodgers is delighted to welcome Balotelli to Anfield, and the Liverpool manager believes that at £16million, it is a bargain price for someone he feels is a world class footballer.
“This transfer represents outstanding value for the club and I think we have done a really smart piece of business here,” he said on the official club website. “There is no doubting Mario’s ability; he is a world-class talent and someone who, for such a young age, has vast experience of playing at the very highest level. He has scored goals in the Premier League, in Italy, in the [UEFA] Champions League and for his country at international level.
“I believe we have the environment to get the best out of him and help him achieve his true potential. We are a strong group here, committed to hard work and he will benefit from being around it. I am looking forward to working with him and helping him learn more, improve and progress as a player. I’m sure the supporters will make him feel very welcome.”
Balotelli will be in attendance at the Etihad Stadium when the Reds take on his former club on Monday evening, when he will also be introduced to his new team-mates. Although he is ineligible to face the champions, he will likely make his debut on Sunday afternoon when Rodgers and his players travel to the capital to face Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool fans, do you agree that £16million is a bargain price for Balotelli? Or do you think he’s more trouble than he’s worth? Let us know your thoughts by joining in the discussion below!