Michael Owen has stated on Sportlobster.com that Liverpool should not sell Mario Balotelli in the January transfer window.
Italy international Balotelli, who joined the Reds from AC Milan in the summer transfer window, has been struggling so far this season.
Although there have been injury concerns, when fit, the 24-year-old striker has failed to do much of note and has disappointing in front of goal.
In 12 Premier League appearances so far this campaign, the former Manchester City star has not scored a single goal, while creating just five chances, has a pass accuracy of only 71% and a shot accuracy of 55%.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has insisted that he will not sell Balotelli this month despite his struggles, with ESPN quoting him as saying: “He hasn't scored the goals here that he would have wanted or we would have wanted.
"But we're determined to help him find the solution here, so he certainly won't be going anywhere in January.”
Owen, a former Liverpool striker, has now backed Rodgers’s stance and has explained why Balotelli remains an important part of the team.
“If I were picking the team, I would start Mario Balotelli upfront,” the 35-year-old wrote on Sportlobster.com. “When he signed, I didn’t think he was the right type of player for Liverpool – certainly if they were trying to replicate previous teams.
“However, I think he is a better option than Rickie Lambert and I prefer Raheem Sterling playing in behind rather than as the back-to-goal No.9.
“He’s the best of what Liverpool have at the minute at least until Daniel Sturridge returns.”
Daniel Sturridge has returned to training for Liverpool, but the England international striker is still quite a way off a first-team comeback.
Although Balotelli does not fit into Rodgers’s current tactical plan which has seen Raheem Sterling used as a centre-forward, the former Inter Milan star does add numbers to the squad.
Former AC Milan striker Balotelli does provide an option from the substitutes’ bench, and selling him this month will leave a hole in the Liverpool squad, especially as signing a replacement will not be easy.