How do you solve a problem like Mario?

The fanfare surrounding Mario Balotelli’s £16 million move to Liverpool was incredible. When he arrived from AC Milan expectations were high. He wasn’t going to be a like-for-like Luis Suarez replacement but he would still be able to terrorise opposing defences. That was August, we are now in November and things could not be more different.

The Italian has failed to find the net in his seven league games and has just two goals in 12 overall appearances. That could be forgiven if he was a workhorse, but he is not. Thus far this season he has looked cumbersome on the pitch. Balotelli’s shortcomings have only been exacerbated by Daniel Sturridge’s absence with injury. Showing just how poorly Balotelli is playing at Anfield is his odds of finishing as the top scorer in England; Betfair currently have him at 150/1, by contrast, Charlie Austin of newly-promoted QPR, is 50/1.

balotelli_sad

So how can Liverpool solve this problem?

Well the big difference could be Sturridge’s return from injury, which the club expect to be within the next 10 days. With the England international back in the fold he will be able to take over the goal-scoring burden that Balotelli has so far failed with. Having Sturridge as the out-and-out centre forward will allow Mario to occupy a deeper role of the shoulder; a position he is more comfortable with.

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Sturridge coming back should also see Raheem Sterling get back to his best. The winger and Sturridge have an intrinsic knowledge of each other and their intricate passing game carves defences open with ease. With Sterling at full wind and a Sturridge hungry for goals, it is inevitable that Liverpool will start scoring, and when they do Balotelli will be one of the benefactors.

Confidence has never been Balotelli’s problem. He is a player who believes himself to be great, which, on his day, he is. However, his attitude problem is well noted; he was recently in the news for getting into a row about his car. Anyway, the Liverpool management team should consider dropping him. He is already hungry for goals but dropping him from the starting line-up would no doubt make him salivate for them. Rickie Lambert is a proven Premier League goal scorer and would easily fit into the side in the meantime.

Of course, this is all simply hypothetical. There is nothing to suggest that Balotelli will start scoring once c returns or if he is instead relegated to the bench, and if that transpires to be then Brendan Rodgers has a serious problem. Transfer talk in recent days has suggested that Napoli may be interested in acquiring the forward’s services for £10 million. Now nobody at Liverpool wants to see him sold but if he doesn’t start performing, let alone scoring, then Rodgers would have no choice. The money the sale would generate would allow them to move for West Brom’s in-form forward Saido Berahino – a player that most Liverpool fans would take over Balotelli right now.

There is no answer to the Balotelli conundrum. If he doesn’t start scoring however, then his time on Merseyside could be very abrupt.

Sturridge coming back should also see Raheem Sterling get back to his best. The winger and Sturridge have an intrinsic knowledge of each other and their intricate passing game carves defences open with ease. With Sterling at full wind and a Sturridge hungry for goals, it is inevitable that Liverpool will start scoring, and when they do Balotelli will be one of the benefactors.

Confidence has never been Balotelli’s problem. He is a player who believes himself to be great, which, on his day, he is. However, his attitude problem is well noted; he was recently in the news for getting into a row about his car. Anyway, the Liverpool management team should consider dropping him. He is already hungry for goals but dropping him from the starting line-up would no doubt make him salivate for them. Rickie Lambert is a proven Premier League goal scorer and would easily fit into the side in the meantime.

Of course, this is all simply hypothetical. There is nothing to suggest that Balotelli will start scoring once Sturridge returns or if he is instead relegated to the bench, and if that transpires to be then Brendan Rodgers has a serious problem. Transfer talk in recent days has suggested that Napoli may be interested in acquiring the forward’s services for £10 million. Now nobody at Liverpool wants to see him sold but if he doesn’t start performing, let alone scoring, then Rodgers would have no choice. The money the sale would generate would allow them to move for West Brom’s in-form forward Saido Berahino – a player that most Liverpool fans would take over Balotelli right now.

There is no answer to the Balotelli conundrum. If he doesn’t start scoring however, then his time on Merseyside could be very abrupt.

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