Mario Balotelli was once caught smoking inside the training ground at Liverpool.
Brendan Rodgers and former Chief Executive spent their 2014 summer in Rio watching the World Cup. The Reds came close to ending their 24-year title drought, but fell agonisingly close.
The Liverpool board and manager was aware of development in Luis Suarez’s outgoing transfer to Barcelona following a thumping season. The Uruguayan accelerated the move by biting Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup – forcing the Reds to sell him any costs.
By then, Liverpool started to search for his replacements and went for Alexis Sanchez. However, the then Barcelona forward had already held talks with Arsene Wenger, and it proved too little and too late for Rodgers to make a move. The idea of living in London was the best, believed Alexis Sanchez.
Three weeks later, Brendan Rodgers assured that Mario Balotelli would never sign during Liverpool’s pre-season in Miami. However, the controversial Italian was donning the red shirt in Melwood two weeks before the transfer window was brought to an end.
Between the failed Alexis Sanchez move and Mario Balotelli’s signing, Rodgers was unceasing in his approach to find an ample goalscorer. He wanted the club to take advantage of Karim Benzema’s contract situation in Real Madrid, but the Frenchman had turned down the Reds. The huge payscale meant that the idea of alluring Edinson Cavani from Napoli, Wilfried Bony from Swansea, and Radamel Falcao from Monaco was never on the cards.
Liverpool agreed a moderate transfer fee for Loic Remy only for the medical to fail. With no options left whatsoever, Rodgers was asked to choose between Mario Balotelli and Samuel Eto’o. He believed that he would bring the best out of the Italian, which never happened under the world-class coaches including Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourinho.
The Reds had played twice and lost once by the time Mario Balotelli arrived. The former AC Milan striker made his debut against Tottenham Hotspur during 3-0 victory and had a decent game, to say the least. The next two games saw Liverpool bowing down to Aston Villa and West Ham.
Following this game, deep-lying midfielder Steven Gerrard admitted that Mario Balotelli never makes runs behind the defenders like Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to give nightmare to the opponents. The injury to Daniel Sturridge meant that the results were hard to come by.
Balotelli is renowned for his shambolic behaviour off-the-pitch. According to The Athletic, the controversial Italian never knew some of his teammate’s names until Christmas and this came as a huge shock for the whole squad. Players living nearby were initially offering Balotelli lifts to training because of the driving ban.
One of those tells a story about him not recognising Joe Allen when Balotelli sat in a passenger seat one morning and Allen was in the back even though he’d been at the club for several months. These antics came as a source of frustration to Brendan Rodgers, who chose not to drop him for a Champions League fixture against FC Basel even though he discovered that the striker had stayed up until 1 am on the morning of the game.
Liverpool eventually lost the game 1-0 and it was that night that made Gerrard believe that Balotelli was never going to fill Suarez’s boots. Even though the former Liverpool Skipper was aware of his talent, he was not happy with the player’s attitude. Balotelli was often late to training and always wanted nothing but attention.
When a player had bought a fancy iPhone, Balotelli pulled off the training once. By the time the rest of the teammates had returned to the training room, he would’ve already sent one of his acquaintances to the nearest retailer. He was also once caught smoking inside the training ground when it was strictly banned inside that territory.
Though many Liverpool players didn’t mind his nasty behaviour, Steven Gerrard mentioned that his failure to train hard had lost his place in the red side of Merseyside.
Mario Balotelli, who is currently plying his trade with Brescia, featured for Liverpool for a year under Brendan Rodgers. He was sent out on loan to AC Milan in the successive year. When Jurgen Klopp was at the helm, the German terminated his contract and this enabled the player to sign for Nice on a free transfer.