Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen believes that the recent controversy surrounding Mario Balotelli ‘has been blown out of all proportion’.
The Italy international striker was caught on camera swapping shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe at half time during the two sides’ Champions League Group B clash at Anfield on Tuesday.
Balotelli did not come on in the second half as Liverpool went on to suffer a humiliating 3-0 defeat, leading many Reds fans, former players and pundits to criticise the £16 million summer signing,
Owen, though, believes that the incident has been given far too much importance and backs Balotelli to start for Liverpool against Hull City at Anfield in the Premier League today.
‘I don’t think Liverpool will start with Mario Balotelli at Anfield against the Tigers but feel they should’, the 34-year-old wrote on Betvictor.com.
‘The crime of swapping shirts with Pepe at halftime, whoever instigated the exchange, has been blown out of all proportion and, whilst I have always considered the Italian a risky signing, I think it would be a mistake to leave him out against Hull.
‘He remains a talented player and, although his style might not suit the Reds when they are firing on all cylinders, I think he should start in the absence of the injured Daniel Sturridge’.
Owen does have a point. Had Liverpool won the game against Madrid, then no one would be slamming Balotelli for swapping shirts.
However, most would agree that Balotelli should have waited until after the match to swap shirts. Liverpool were 3-0 down at half time and the 24-year-old had played poorly in the first 45 minutes.