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Mario Balotelli: Liverpools calculated £16m gamble

Mario Balotelli: Liverpools calculated £16m gamble
mario-balotelli-liverpools-calculated-16m-gamble
Brendan Rodgers could not have shown James Brewer Womens Jersey more conviction - or been more convincing - when he stated in the strongest possible terms in Miami that Mario Balotelli would not be signing for Liverpool. There was no room for doubt or argument. Throw the ever-changing world of the transfer market forward three weeks and 24-year-old Balotelli was boarding a plane in Italy bound for Merseyside ahead of completing one of the summer's most surprising deals. Liverpool manager Rodgers, a co-operative straight dealer with the media, discovered truth can become a very early casualty in a worldwide search for the sort of calibre to replace Luis Suarez, who left Anfield for Barcelona this summer. In his place comes an international striker with a rich pedigree, a Premier League title, a worldwide profile - but a whole barrel-load of "buts" and baggage. This is Liverpool jumping out of the frying pan into the fire and more besides. The romantics among Liverpool's fan base will see the former Manchester City striker as the ideal anti-hero replacement for Suarez, a transfer gamble that could end up being ranked alongside Manchester United's left-field punt on the brilliantly gifted maverick Eric Cantona in November 1992 that provided the final planks on a bridge to a title that eluded Old Trafford for 26 years. The sceptics will see Balotelli as the sort of erratic player and combustible personality who could upset the delicate dressing room balance and work ethic Rodgers has strived so hard to build up so successfully in his two seasons at Liverpool. One thing is certain - life is about to get a lot more interesting at Anfield. What is not certain is whether the deal is a success - so what will Liverpool have weighed up in their calculations? Where else in the inflated transfer market http://www.officialauthenticcardinals.com/CARDINALS-TED-GINN-JR-JERSEY would Liverpool have got an established international at such a young age at such a relatively cheap price? It is no fault of Shane Long, but the £12m Southampton paid Hull City to secure a striker who is part of the Premier League's undercard will probably be used as a benchmark in this deal. Balotelli, if the right buttons can be pressed (perhaps the biggest "if" in the game) is a mercurial, match-winning talent who can score goals, create goals and shape games. And for a character who often appears so chaotic, there can occasionally be moments of icy calm in the heat of battle. Use as evidence the cool, slotted finish at the Stretford End against Manchester United in Manchester City's 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October 2011 - followed by the famous "Why Always Me?" T-shirt after accidentally setting his bathroom ablaze with fireworks in the days before that game. There was also the penalty scored with serenity in the dying seconds of the crucial 3-2 win against Tottenham later that season - a game that saw him incur a retrospective four-match ban for stamping on Scott Parker. Balotelli has also occasionally graced the international stage with Italy, a match-winner with two goals in the Euro 2012 semi-final against Germany in Warsaw and also with the decisive header in the 2-1 World Cup group game against England in Manaus this Brazilian summer. The player's form dipped dramatically after a brilliant start at AC Milan but 30 goals in 54 games still represents a respectable return. Daniel Sturridge arrived at Liverpool from Chelsea with questions about his character and attitude but has flourished superbly under Rodgers, while Suarez's behaviour improved remarkably with time and patience last season. He will feel he can achieve similar things with Balotelli. Former Liverpool defender Gary Gillespie told BBC Sport: "If Liverpool can get him playing the way they know he can and curb his off-field antics they have certainly got a player, but no manager has been able to do it before. Brendan obviously has the confidence and belief he can do that." These are the qualities (not to mention the price tag) that has persuaded Rodgers to shift his position so dramatically from the day he drew laughter from those gathered in a Miami room with his dismissal of the idea that Balotelli may be added to his squad. At £16m, Liverpool and Rodgers have simply decided this is the price on the ticket of a risk worth taking. Put simply, no manager has ever been able to curb Balotelli's eccentricities to achieve the consistency and success his natural gifts should bring. Will he always remain an unfulfilled and troubled talent? No-one could have tried harder, or indulged him more, than his authoritarian hard-liner fellow Italian Roberto Mancini at Manchester City. He almost treated Balotelli like his son, often talking about how he "loved" Mario, but in the end it was all to no avail and he gave up on what seemed a pet project. This close relationship did not stop the pair being involved in a training ground flare-up in January 2013 when Mancini reacted angrily to tackle by Balotelli on a team-mate. It was symptomatic of the indiscipline that provided a narrative throughout his time at the club. Mancini once said: "I told him, if you http://www.brownsnflofficialauthentic.com/BROWNS-CHRISTIAN-KIRKSEY-JERSEY played with me 10 years ago I would have given you every day maybe one punch in your head. "I don't speak with him every day otherwise I would need a psychologist but I speak with him because I don't want him to lose his quality. If Mario is not one of the best players in the world it will be his fault because he has everything." In the end, it counted for nothing and he ran out of chances at City before being sold to AC Milan for £19m in January 2013. Often looking disinterested and ill-disciplined, he was also fined two weeks' wages after missing 12 games during the 2011-2012 season - although he initially threatened to take City to a tribunal over the matter. Liverpool fans may remember a brief appearance as a substitute at Anfield in November 2011 when two yellow cards in the space of 18 minutes saw Balotelli - who most observers agreed resembled a small child in a bad mood - sent off. There was also the rather bizarre episode of his retreat from the Europa League loss away to Dynamo Kiev with claims of an allergy to grass. Then, the many stories of his lively off-field behaviour, although no-one at City ever suggested Balotelli was anything other than a popular figure, his scrapes more the result of a "child-like" attitude than any hint of malice.

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