It’s fair to say that Liverpool legend John Aldridge hasn’t been too impressed with Mario Balotelli’s start to life on Merseyside.
Although the Italian wasn’t the most expensive of Brendan Rodgers’ summer signings, he was certainly the one who made the most headlines following his switch to Anfield. Despite helping Manchester City win the Premier League and the FA Cup, his previous spell in England was shrouded in controversy both on and off the pitch before the Blues sold him to Milan in January 2013.
After also falling out with the Bianconeri the Reds spent £16million to land him in August, as they looked to find more firepower following the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. However, Balotelli has yet to score in nine league appearances, and has often looked disinterested. This has even led to suggestions that he could be offloaded when the window reopens in the New Year.
One player who never struggled to find the back of the net for Liverpool was Aldridge, who scored 63 goals in 104 matches in all competitions between January 1987 and September 1989. And the former Republic of Ireland international has unsurprisingly been less than impressed with Balotelli so far, even suggesting the 24-year-old may be best used as an impact substitute for now.
“I watched him intently at games and it’s not natural to him,” he told Sky Sports HQ. “He doesn’t know where to run, when to run, how to run at times. I think he’s used to playing in the hole, (and) he’s played right wing at times with Milan. What will Brendan do? I’m not too sure, I think he’s probably best used, in my opinion, as an impact player between now and January, and assessing it then.”
Despite his lack of goals for his new club, Balotelli has been called up to the Italy squad for the forthcoming international matches. Antonio Conte’s side, who have won their opening three matches in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, host a Croatian team who have done likewise in Milan. And two days later the Azzurri face Albania in a friendly.