For one match only, it seemed like the idea of bringing Mario Balotelli to team up with Daniel Sturridge was going to be a huge success for Liverpool. But then the man who has been pushed out without regret from every club he has played for went back to what we’re used to seeing from him.
This is the tally from Balotelli so far this season for Liverpool: Four goals in all competitions, playing in 23 matches. One goal in the Premier League, one in the Champions League, one in the League Cup and another in the Europa League.
He hasn’t started a match for Liverpool in the league since November 8. Since Liverpool have turned the corner and have gone on to win eight matches and draw three more over their last 11, Balotelli has one moment of happiness (against vs Tottenham, scoring the winning goal), but overall he has played 46 minutes in three cameos off the bench during that stretch. Not a factor at all.
The thing about Balotelli is that he truly might be a lost cause when it comes to the higher levels of European football. He was kicked out of Inter and overstayed his welcome both with Manchester City and AC Milan, despite scoring 26 goals in 43 league matches for the Rossoneri.
Balotelli wants to be like Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A striker that doesn’t do a lot and has an entire tean playing for him. When you’re a goal and title machine like Zlatan, a teammate of his back at Inter, it’s easy to get away with some of the more lazy aspects of your game. When you’re Balotelli, who isn’t as gifted or prolific, all the bad that comes with his attitude and playing style stands out.
Rumors are suggesting that Balotelli’s next destination will be the United States, MLS. Usually, international European stars move to play soccer there when it’s the twilight of their careers. Balotelli should be beginning the best part of his. But something inside of him has been holding him back for a very long time. Or maybe he’s never been as talented as some would have us believe. Regardless of the reasons for his disappointing career thus far, he’s closer to finding himself playing in obscure places than becoming a centerpiece or even a fringe player for a top club at the moment.