How do Liverpool solve a problem like Mario Balotelli?

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Updated: June 15, 2015
Mario Balotelli Milan

Balotelli_GC20246-e1363542260815Maverick. Idiot. Enigma. Mario Balotelli has been called a lot of things during his time as a footballer. Since he burst onto the scene as a fresh faced teenager he has never been too far from a newspaper’s front pages.

From training ground fights to setting off fireworks in his own bathroom, the Italian has not been the quietest off the field.

Despite the criticism he has endured at Anfield this season, his goal scoring record is not as bad as some might think. Throughout his league career, Balotelli’s goal scoring ratio before joining his current side Liverpool, was a goal every 2.39 games.

This season however it has been to the internet memes creator’s pleasure that he has misfired worse than an engine on a clamped out Morris Minor. Just a solitary goal in fifteen league appearances and only three more across all competitions means he was 7th in the pecking order of Liverpool goal scorers. So the question is, what do Liverpool do with him?

Option 1 – Sell

Brendan Rodgers took a massive gamble to pay a reported £16 million to AC Milan for Balotelli’s services last season but with extra add-ons unaccounted for, no one is really sure how much he has cost Liverpool. The option to sell seems easy despite the fact an out-of-form striker that would no doubt carry a double figure price tag will put a lot of potential suitors off.

The second issue is actually finding an aforementioned potential suitor. Clubs in Italy, where Balotelli seems to be the most at ease will not want to take the risk on him, sans someone like Napoli who might well be looking to replace Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain if recent transfer speculation is to be believed.

Option 2- Nurture him

With Liverpool’s all too documented woes in front of goal last season, should he decide not to sell Ballotelli, Rodgers will have no option but to try and get the best out of his troubled Italian and make him the main man at Anfield.

But arguably with Liverpool, there is no room for him to be that. The system played by Rodgers currently tends to accommodate only one sole striker, meaning when Daniel Sturridge is fit, he would be the preferred option. Playing two strikers up top may indeed suit Balotelli but would Rodgers be willing to alter his system to accommodate him? The jury’s still out on that one.

It is fair to say that it’s very much ‘stick or twist’ time for Liverpool. They can sell him and use the funds from his transfer to reinvest in a new striker or they can persevere and hope Rodgers can bring out the old Mario Balotelli we used to see in flashes during his time at Manchester City.

But with the summer transfer window now in full flow, whatever Liverpool decide to do with the enigmatic striker, they need to do it now…and quickly.

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