Mario Balotelli is no Luis Suarez and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers knows that. However, the Northern Irishman is of the opinion that the Italy international can become a world-class striker.
'I think Mario is potentially world class', Sky Sports quotes him as saying. 'You can't compare Suarez and him, but Mario is coming in as an international striker and he's a talent, no doubt'.
But how can Balotelli attain that ever-elusive world-class status and take himself to the level of Suarez?
'He (Suarez) wasn't world class when he came in but when he left to go to Barcelona he had put himself in that bracket', said Rodgers. 'He did that because of his consistency in scoring goals and keeping his performance level high.
'World class is about being at the highest level consistently, being at that level in your game consistently. That's what takes you there'.
And Balotelli will want to be ‘there’. The Italy international has loads of talent, but so far in his career the 24-year-old has struggled with inconsistency and controversies.
Balotelli has bags of experience as well, having played for the likes of Inter Milan, Manchester City and AC Milan. In fact, he is a one-time Champions League and Premier League winner and a three-time Serie A winner.
Replacing Suarez will not be easy, especially given the number of goals he scored for Liverpool. Balotelli is not that prolific and does not have the Uruguayan’s work-rate, but the Italian has time on his hands.
Now 24, Liverpool represents Balotelli’s last big chance to establish himself as one of the best strikers in Europe.
As for the departed Suarez, the 27-year-old has yet to feature in a competitive match for Barcelona as he is still serving his FIFA-imposed ban.
And it seems that his Barcelona teammates are missing him, with Lionel Messi telling Fox Sports Magazine: ‘It's special that he chose to come here. We will be stronger as a team with him. We will have a lot more variety’.