Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers’s Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert revelations throw up questions

Balotelli Milan

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers opens up on the signings of Mario Balotelli from AC Milan and Rickie Lambert from Southampton in the summer transfer window.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has made a rather disconcerting revelation about striker Mario Balotelli: he was not his first-choice option to replace Luis Suarez.

Rodgers has also explained why he has used England international striker Rickie Lambert sparingly so far this season.

‘I always said it was about availability and affordability of players’, The Guardian quotes the Northern Irishman as saying. ‘Mario was the one right at the very end who was available for that. I said when he came in that it was a calculated risk and it’s something I have to work on to try to make it work for the team.

‘You assess what the group had. We brought in Rickie Lambert as someone who can play some games for us and come off the bench and be an impact player for us in certain games.

'Daniel is a top Premier League player but has shown during his time here that he does get injuries so we needed to prepare for that. Obviously Fabio Borini looked like he was on his way out [to Sunderland].

‘We had attempts for other strikers that didn’t materialise for one reason or another so it left us right at the end of the window with a decision on whether just to go with what we had, when experience told us we were too light, or take a calculated risk on a player who has quality and then could we get it out of him consistently?’

  PositionTeamCompetitionGoalsTotal ShotsShots on TargetGoal AssistChances createdAppearancesMins Played
Mario Balotelli FW Liverpool Champions League 1 9 3 0 2 2 180
Mario Balotelli FW Liverpool Premier League 0 20 5 0 3 4 310
Rickie Lambert FW Liverpool Premier League 0 1 1 0 0 5 61

A number of talking points emerge from Rodgers’s revelation about Balotelli and Lambert.

It was pretty much clear that Uruguay international Suarez was leaving Liverpool once he bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in the summer.

The departure of the 27-year-old to Barcelona was confirmed in the second week of July so there was enough time for Liverpool to sign an able replacement. The Merseyside outfit were reportedly paid £75 million for Suarez’s services, which means that they had money to burn.

The likes of Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani were linked with moves to Anfield, but in the end they signed Balotelli from AC Milan for a reported £16 million.

Balotelli is a decent striker and has potential, but no one at Liverpool could have really thought that he could compensate for the goals that Suarez scored last season.

So why did Liverpool fail to sign better strikers? Rodgers speaks of not having strikers available, but Falcao joined Manchester United on a season-long loan deal from AS Monaco on transfer deadline day.

True, the Colombian was made available by AS Monaco towards the end of the summer transfer window, but could Liverpool have not made a better effort before?

One can understand Rodgers’s stance on Lambert. The England international joined Liverpool from Southampton in the summer for a reported £4m and was signed largely as a back-up.

Lambert is deservedly getting the recognition for his hard work over the years now, but at the age of 32 he was never really going to stand a chance of being the first choice at Anfield.

Having said all that, one must remember that Liverpool’s best striker Daniel Sturridge has been injured since last month. The 25-year-old is the one who will get the Reds goals and his return from injury will be welcomed by everyone at Liverpool.

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