When Liverpool’s mercurial striker and leading man Luis Suárez departed for greener Catalunyan pastures this summer, it left a massive hole on the club’s squad.
Not only would they need to fill the void of the league leading goal tally that Suárez provided, but for those of us who aren’t fans of the Mereysiders, we all needed a new player to mock Liverpool supporters about. And who better to give them grief about than Mario Balotelli?
If the rumors are to be believed, Super Mario will be leaving Italy and returning to England to be the new leading man in Liverpool’s attack. I for one love this idea, because the Italian front man is a non-stop bag of laughs. Not that I want to see Liverpool sign a player of his class, but I’ll at least be guaranteed a few moments of brilliance and ridiculousness for my troubles.
And below, I narrowed down my top five reasons for why I’m looking forward to Balotelli’s return.
5. Seeing how it affects Liverpool’s attack.
Last year, Liverpool sported one of the most entertaining attacks in English football. Not only did they feature two of the top five scorers in the league, but they also offered a very fluid and varied attack with Suárez, Sturridge and Sterling all providing a threat. And much of the success of that attack centered around their incredible pace and counter attack play.
Balotelli, though, isn’t exactly a player who thrives in a quick moving offense. He’s capable of playing quickly, but he’s more prone to playing a traditional number nine role. He’s a guy who can play with his back to the goal, hold up play, and work the ball to teammates. He can create goals for himself, but usually at the end of a build up either from the wings or through the midfield.
Though maybe that’s exactly what Brendan Rodgers wants.
4. The patented Balotelli Flex goal celebration.
Two years ago at the Euros, Balotelli scored an emphatic goal for Italy against Germany and celebrated by ripping off his shirt and flexing in such a way that it will haunt the dreams of young children for years to come. If you don’t remember it, peep the picture to the right. It was completely bad ass in a way that only Balotelli can be a bad ass. But knowing Super Mario, he’ll do it at a point in the season where he’s already accumulated four yellow cards… meaning he’ll earn a games suspension for the ensuing yellow card.
3. To prove he can stay at a club for more than three seasons.
Looking back over the young Mario’s career, his stays with his respective employers was never for long. We’ll give him a pass at his first club, Lumezzane, as he turned professional at the age of 15 and soon attracted the interests of the Italian powers. That’s standard fair for any young player with talent. But despite making a smashing debut and showing glimpses of his potential, he only lasted three seasons at Internazionale before they’d had enough of his antics and shipped him off to Manchester City. Yet after forking out €21.8 million to land the youngster and Balotelli again producing a series of eye-catching performances — his off field transgressions once again caused more trouble than the club were willing to withstand. And after a tumultuous two and half years, they shipped him off for a loss at a price of €20 million. Now at his boyhood club of AC Milan, and again performing, he’s on his way to Liverpool after only a single season. Though this time it has more to do with the club shedding expenses instead of his own behavior.
If he can show some maturity and produce for Liverpool, he’ll possibly prove he’s not the mercenary that so many believe him to be.
2. Shoot fireworks out his bathroom window with Raheem Sterling.
I know these kind of hijinks are what helped to contribute to his short stays at the clubs he’s played at, Balotelli coming back to England wouldn’t be Balotelli back in England if he wasn’t entertaining us with something ridiculous. And there really couldn’t be a better partner in crime for him than new teammate Raheem Sterling. But the pair should be careful about shooting those fireworks with all of the hair spray that Sterling tends to throw into the ‘do.
1. A goal (or two) against Manchester City.
If there’s anything I believe about Mario Balotelli, it’s that he’s a vindictive son of a bitch. The guy seems to feed off of those who doubt him and always seems to play better with a chip on his shoulder. And I have zero doubt that he holds a bit of a grudge against his former employers in the English Northwest. And though his rumored transfer has yet to go through meaning he won’t feature in Mondays high-profile clash with the Citizens, you better believe I’ll be watching the next time they meet.