Liverpool legend Steve Nicol believes Mario Balotelli has offered the club no more than Rickie Lambert would with more minutes since his £16 million arrival from AC Milan.
Balotelli has scored one goal in six games for the club so far, failing to impress when leading the line in Daniel Sturridge’s absence.
The 24-year-old striker squandered a number of prime chances in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Everton, and Nicol believes it’s time he started living up to his big-name reputation.
‘Quite frankly he’s just making up the numbers at the moment,’ he told ESPN FC.
‘If Lambert’s name was on the back of his shirt then there wouldn’t even be a discussion, but because Balotelli’s a big-name we’re debating how well he played.
‘With the quality we keep saying he has, it’s about time he showed some it.
‘If you’re Mario Balotelli – this supposed superstar – you should be putting the ball in the back of the net.
‘We’re going to give the guy credit for not sulking? What kind of nonsense is that? We didn’t afford anyone else that luxury.’
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Having scored 30 goals in 56 appearances 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 with Manchester City, but his noted behavioural issues have continually hampered his development in the past.
Such issues haven’t cropped up since his arrival at Anfield, but neither have his supposed world class finishing skills either.