2 Sept 2015

Zero to Hero: Boss hails 'extraordinary' £16m Liverpool attacker and insists he's 'radically changed'

Well, here's one for the books: After being ceaselessly castigated by fans, pundits, and ex-players (including no fewer than NINE ex-Liverpool players), LFC's on-loan striker Mario Balotelli has finally received some recognition for his concerted attempt to improve his attitude to football.

Speaking to Sky Sports Italia, AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani hailed Balotelli's 'extraordinary attitude', and insisted that he's 'radically changed'. He further enthused:

"He [Balotelli] is the first to arrive [a training] and the last to leave. He's probably realised that this is his last chance and I'm sure he won't waste it. His technical ability has never been in question"

As I highlighted earlier this week, Balotelli is one of the most maligned players to ever wear the red shirt, and over the last few years, various Liverpool legends have labelled him a 'disgrace', a 'nutcase', a 'liability', a 'destructive force', and a 'waste of space'.

None of these ridiculously overwrought labels applied to Balotelli at Liverpool. For the most part, the Italian worked hard in training, and Rodgers confirmed this as recently as July, when he told The Guardian:

“Mario is working hard and training well with a number of other players at Melwood. He is working hard to get fit and we will see when the season begins.”

After signing for Milan, Balotelli claimed that he'd been a consummate professional during his year at Anfield. He told Gazetta Dello Sport:

“I always behaved like a professional at Liverpool. There was never a problem with my private life. I may have put pictures from restaurants on Instagram, but that does not mean I did not train even though I was not playing".

There's absolutely no hard evidence of Balotelli's alleged lack of professionalism, or laziness (the favoured accusation of disrguntled fans) during his year at Liverpool.

There is, however, plenty of unsubstantiated gossip, peddled by the likes of the Liverpool Echo, who published a risibly repugnant hatchet job about five minutes after Balotelli sealed his move to Milan.

It's not Balotelli's fault that Brendan Rodgers abjectly failed to utilise him properly. Indeed, under Rodgers, Balotelli suffered an 80% reduction in creative output, which is strange considering that - prior to Liverpool - he averaged a goal/assist every 1.7 games for his entire career. Indeed, Balotelli also noted:

“I must accept my faults, but the formation chosen by [manager Brendan] Rodgers was not suited to my characteristics".

Clearly, Rodgers signed Balotelli without any clear plan on how to utilise him correctly, and that - along with wasting tens of millions on underperforming dross - cost Liverpool a place in this year's Champions League.

It'll certainly be interesting to see how Balotelli performs for Milan this season...

Author: Jaimie K


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