Former Manchester City forward Rodney Marsh says Mario Balotelli will cause more problems than he solves at Liverpool and has predicted that the signing will blow up in Brendan Rodgers’ face.
Having played two-and-a-half seasons at City before leaving for AC Milan in January 2013, the 24-year-old Italian international is now back in England after a £16 million move to Anfield, as the club bid to replace the 31-goal impact of the departed Luis Suarez.
Marsch confessed that the polarising front man is a ‘terrific footballer’ but, after seeing his previous Premier League stint blighted with various instances of questionable behaviour, both on and off the pitch, believes he also possesses the potential to derail their season.
‘The Balotelli thing will blow up in his [Rodgers’] face,’ he told talkSPORT. ‘It could derail Liverpool’s season.
‘As soon as he gets the hump, what will Rodgers do? Will he pander to him? He’s a terrific footballer and has a good goal record. But how long will it be before he upsets other players, Sturridge for instance?’
Even if Balotelli does produce to his best, Marsh still doesn’t see Liverpool as serious title contenders, believing that even a top-four finish is a longshot at this stage.
‘Liverpool are nowhere near as good as they were last year,’ he added. ‘If they get fourth [this season] they’ll have swum the channel.’
Having netted 30 times in 56 games during his 18 months at Milan, Balotelli no doubt has the talent to produce at the top level, as he demonstrated at times during his previous Premier League stint, but his noted behavioural issues have continued to hamper his development thus far.
Nevertheless, £16 million is a far from steep asking price for someone with his potential and, if Rodgers can use his man management skills to succeed where the likes of Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini before him failed, then it could prove to be the bargain of the summer.