Brendan Rodgers claims he didn’t think Mario Balotelli was a good fit for Liverpool, despite the player arriving at the club during his spell in charge.
When the Reds finished second in the 2013/14 Premier League, their supporters were hopeful they could push on the following term and secure a first title since 1990. However, it was clear their plans would be disrupted when Luis Suarez – their brilliant talisman and inspiration behind their runner-up placing – was sold to Barcelona for a fee of £75million.
Rodgers was told he could use this cash to reinvest in his squad to ensure they remained competitive, but the majority of his big-money captures proved to be disappointing. And none more so than the controversial Balotelli, who arrived from Milan in a £16million deal. The Italian failed to show any sort of form on Merseyside, scoring just one league goal in 16 appearances.
The 25-year-old, who won a league title and an FA Cup during his first spell in England at Manchester City, is now back at Milan where he is spending the season on loan. As for Rodgers, he was sacked last October after failing to build on that second-place finish. And he has now revealed that it was Alexis Sanchez, and not Balotelli, who he wanted to add to his Anfield squad.
“What we needed was a player who could really press at the top end of the field,” he said on Sky Sports. “It wasn’t just a goalscorer we were after. I felt Mario was someone who wouldn’t work for us. But come the end of the summer, we were struggling to get someone who could do the role we wanted. I think the ownership group thought that this could be a player I could develop.
“They were thinking that maybe he is a £50million player that we can get for £16milllion. So, when the owners are wanting you to go down that route and there is no other options, then you give it a go. The huge blow for us was we felt we were getting Alexis Sanchez. We thought Luis was going and he would have been the like-for-like replacement. He would have been perfect for us.”
Sanchez, of course, chose Arsenal when he left Barcelona that summer, and he has been a resounding success at the Emirates Stadium. During his debut season he scored 25 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions, and he has nine in 18 this time round as the Gunners head the Premier League table and also compete in both the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.
Rodgers has also spoken of his disappointment at not landing Dele Alli, who signed for Tottenham Hotspur last January. The 19-year-old, formerly of MK Dons, has also burst onto the England scene during the course of this term, and the former Anfield boss added: “He wanted to come to Liverpool. We thought we had him in. Then the deal didn’t get done between the clubs and eventually he went to Tottenham, which was frustrating and disappointing.”