The Misunderstood Genius Of Mario Balotelli

2 of 2

View image |

With a solid foundation behind them, it was a style of play that not only nearly paid massive dividends, it suited the personnel in the team down to the ground as well. Now, Balotelli is a lot of things. Strong, powerful, good in the air.

He’s the kind of striker who competes physically with opposing defenders, and usually gets the better of them. Everything about his style of play went against the brand Liverpool had worked hard to create. Here was a guy who didn’t drop back to collect passes, because he did most of his damage in the box.

It may be somewhat lazy to compare him to Arsenal striker Oliver Giroud, but there are similarities there. The key difference however, is that the Gunners try their best to change their style of play to accommodate their big Frenchman when he’s on the pitch with them.

Liverpool on the other hand, continued to play in the same way that brought them such success the year before. Nothing wrong with that of course, it’s just it was always going to be difficult for Balotelli to have a positive impact when shoehorned into that system.

Interestingly, this may also explain why another Liverpool striker has had a rough time of it since joining the club. Rickie Lambert, the onetime Southampton hotshot, has been a periphery player since joining the club in the summer of 2014.

Like Balotelli, the 33 year old former Bristol Rovers hotshot possesses a large frame, and has the physicality to beat defenders. He is also not built for the intricate games Liverpool play with the ball, he’s more of an old fashioned ‘lump the ball forward to me’ kind of player.

More from The Top Flight

Again there’s nothing wrong with this, Lambert was called up to the England national side off the back of those dominant performances. It was just always going to be tough for him with Liverpool and he looks set to move on this summer.

Returning to Balotelli, is his future also set to be away from Anfield? Certainly it would appear this way right now, and in Nicolas Anelka, he may have the unlikely player whose career footsteps he may need to follow in to redeem himself.

Having already played for both Milan clubs and Manchester City, Balotelli has togged out for his fair share of big clubs, teams that are used to winning trophies. Now though, he may need to move downwards for a while, before rising back up again once more. This is what Anelka did to resurrect his career roughly a decade ago. At one point an Arsenal and Real Madrid striking sensation, the Frenchman had a reputation as being difficult to work with, a dressing room distraction.

His fall from grace was hard, as he would go on to play for Liverpool (Somewhat ironically), Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City (Before their cash windfall) and Fenerbache in Turkey. While the status of club he played for dropped considerably from his heyday with Madrid, his talents never wavered, nor did his goalscoring abilities. He toiled away playing for less glamorous organisations, before landing back in the big time as a Chelsea player between 2008-2012.

Anelka’s career trajectory was rocky and far from straightforward, and that ultimately could be how things unfold for Balotelli. Don’t forget, although it appears he’s been around for a long time, he is still only 24 years of age too. The best is yet to come for this guy, and that is a point worth remembering.

He’s already exhibited his considerable talent for some of the biggest clubs in the world. Now perhaps it is time to ply his trade with a lesser team, before coming back in a couple of years as the feared striker we once knew him as. While he’s gone, don’t forget about the genius he is capable of on a football pitch. It never left him, and it will be back.

Next: Southampton Will Fight to Keep Fonte