Brendan Rodgers has jumped to the defence of Mario Balotelli, insisting the Italy international will soon be scoring goals for Liverpool.
The former Manchester City striker joined the Reds in a £16million deal during the summer, in a transfer Rodgers admitted was a ‘calculated risk.’ At the moment there has been little return from this outlay, with the 24-year-old scoring just one goal in all competitions, and none in the Premier League, whilst not yet providing so much as a single assist.
Balotelli was at his most frustrating on Sunday afternoon when the Merseyside outfit beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2 in a remarkable match at Loftus Road, during which he had a golden chance to open his account but instead blazed over the crossbar from a matter of yards. Aside from this, he looked disinterested as he failed to make any sort of impact.
What makes it all the more frustrating for Liverpool fans is that last season they could rely on Luis Suarez, who joined Barcelona in the summer for a fee of around £70million. However, Rodgers has reiterated his opinion that it is unfair to compare the two players, whilst going on to stress his confidence that Balotelli will soon be amongst the goals.
“The criticism of him has been unfair, yes,” he said. “That’s because he’s probably seen as the direct replacement for Luis and, as I said before, Luis was irreplaceable and a real world-class talent. That’s not what’s being asked of Mario. He’s not going to be what Luis was, he is a totally different type of player. Eventually, the goals will come for him.
Mario’s really focused on making sure that he’s concentrating on preparing himself to train and play. The most important thing for me is Mario’s work. The guy’s doing his best, he’s working really hard. He has come into here, he’s a great boy, and I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He wants to improve and be better, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Balotelli will have the chance to make himself a hero on Wednesday night, when European champions Real Madrid visit Anfield in the UEFA Champions League. The Spanish giants have certainly had no problems in front of goal this season, scoring 30 times in their first eight league games, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring exactly half of their tally.
Will Balotelli prove his critics wrong, or will he prove to be a waste of money for Liverpool? Let us know what you think by joining in the discussion below.