Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said that Mario Balotelli should be “one of the top three” strikers in the world and that the timing of his arrival at Anfield was “unfortunate”.
Balotelli moved to Liverpool in August 2014 after a turbulent summer for the Reds, following their near-miss in the Premier League title race and the departure of Luis Surez, who had scored 31 goals in the top flight that season.
The Italian would only spend one season on Merseyside, scoring four goals in 28 appearances, before he was loaned back to AC Milan.
Speaking on The Beautiful Game Podcast, Rodgers opened up on his experience of that summer’s difficult transfer window, including the club’s failed pursuit of Alexis Sanchez.
“It was always going to be very difficult to replace a player like Luis,” Rodgers said.
“There was a little bit of stuff written about that team, that it was a one man team, and that was really unfair. We created a team.
That’s like saying Tottenham’s built around Harry Kane. He’s a world class striker but he needs the others around him as well. It’s the same here with Jamie Vardy, he’s a top level striker.
“When Luis left we were missing that spark and like you said – Alexis Sanchez.
“We had spoken over the summer and I was led to believe his partner was keen to move to London. He obviously went to Arsenal and was fantastic.
We missed out and we had Daniel Sturridge who had been struggling, Fabio Borini who was looking to move on and we bought in Rickie Lambert to be the fourth choice to help and support in cup games.”
“It ended up, with Luis going, Fabio going and Daniel being the only one, it left us in a really vulnerable position,” the manager said.
“It was pretty clear to see that, strikers I’ve always worked with, Mario Balotelli didn’t fit my style. But one thing I will say about Mario is that he has all the talent, and he genuinely has.
“He should be one of the top three strikers in world football. He has everything. It’s the difference between talent and working talent. It was just unfortunate he’d come in when Luis had left and in his first game he did very well.
“We won 3-0 at White Hart Lane and he was very good. Mario played with Daniel in a diamond and it worked so well, but after that game Daniel got injured.
“We went through a period when we were pressing the game, weren’t intense enough and I thought we had to change something because we’d lost that ingredient. That’s when I played Raheem (Sterling) there and we went to 3-4-3.”
Rodgers’ problems in attack in the summer of 2014 seem a distant memory to the attacking options at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal, after the German’s acquisition of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Indeed, Liverpool have improved their reputation of signing big-name players having previously missed out, with Alisson and Virgil van Dijk moving to the Reds within months of each other.
In other news, Klopp has been tipped to send a convincing message to his Liverpool stars in a bid to sign Timo Werner.