Mario Balotelli’s move to Liverpool has divided opinions, with some claiming that the Premier League club have made a mistake and others stating that Reds manager Brendan Rodgers will be able to get the best out of him.
One former Liverpool player who believes that the Italian striker will not be a success at Anfield is Gary McAllister, who won the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup during his time with the Merseyside outfit.
‘It will split everyone’, the former Scotland international midfielder told talkSPORT. ‘He’s got great ability, but Liverpool are very much together under Brendan Rodgers and it doesn’t take a lot to split a dressing room. And that’s my only fear. I’m not so sure [about it]’.
Given Balotelli’s history and the problems he has had at Inter Milan, Manchester City and AC Milan, one can understand McAllister’s apprehension.
If the likes of Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini struggled to keep the 24-year-old focused on his football, then it is not entirely wrong to suggest that Rodgers cannot.
Another point that McAllister raises is the playing position of Daniel Sturridge. The England international striker has blossomed under Rodgers since his move to Liverpool from Chelsea in January 2013, but the Scotsman suggests that the 24-year-old could struggle to play alongside Balotelli.
‘I don’t know where Balotelli plays’, said McAllister. ‘If he plays up top, does Sturridge move to the side? I don’t think he likes it out there.
‘He [Balotelli] is not going to be second fiddle, that’s not his thing. I’m looking forward to seeing how they line up with the three or four really attacking players they’ve got’.
Following the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona earlier this summer, Sturridge was expected to be the main centre-forward for Liverpool. And it could remain so even with the arrival of Balotelli.
Sturridge is more mobile than the Italian and having played with Suarez, he would know what it takes to play in a two-man attackline.
Balotelli featured alongside the mobile Sergio Aguero at City so playing alongside Sturridge may not be as difficult as some would suggest.