Mario Balotelli Replacing Luis Suarez Would Be Divisive Liverpool Transfer Move

Max Munton@thisisanfieldLiverpool CorrespondentAugust 20, 2014

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 27:  Mario Balotelli #45 of AC Milan signals to teammates against Manchester City during International Champions Cup 2014 at Heinz Field on July 27, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Reports in Italy on Wednesday suggest Liverpool are preparing a £17.5 million bid for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, per Sport Mediaset and translated by This Is Anfield, but it would be a move that would split opinions among fans.

For all Balotelli's talents and further development potential, he comes with baggage some may argue is unwelcome at Liverpool.

Once described by Jose Mourinho, his manager at Inter Milan, as "unmanageable," per GiveMeSport, Balotelli's relationship with Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini eventually reached breaking point during his last spell in the Premier League.

Phil McNulty of BBC Sport described the pair's relationship aptly in January 2013.

"When Balotelli erred, and he did so often, Mancini's demeanour was often not rage but almost sadness that what he clearly regarded as potentially world-class gifts were as camouflaged as the Bentley the young striker drove around Manchester," McNulty wrote.

The 24-year-old's temperamental attitude to professional football has been well documented in the media, and a series of bizarre off-the-pitch incidents has left his mentors exasperated.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:   Manchester City Manager Roberto Mancini gives instructions to Mario Balotelli of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on August 26, 2012 in Liverpool, E
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Following the striker's red card for Man City against Arsenal in April 2012, Mancini appeared to have had the last straw, as per The Guardian's Dominic Fifield:

I've finished my words for him. I've finished. I love him as a guy, as a player. I know him. He's not a bad guy and [he] is a fantastic player. But, at this moment, I'm very sorry for him because he continues to lose his talent, his quality. I hope, for him, he can understand that he's in a bad way for his future. And he can change his behaviour in the future. But I'm finished.

Balotelli's footballing talents but difficult nature perhaps make the Italian international a flawed genius, a term often used to describe Luis Suarez's time at Liverpool.

It is worth noting that Suarez's three-and-a-half years at Anfield is looked back on fondly. Despite the baggage that followed him, what he did on the pitch for the club was unrivalled in the whole Premier League at the time.

It is therefore far from unfathomable to understand why many fans would love to see Balotelli join Brendan Rodgers' set-up.

Rodgers has spoken about the need to add goals to the team and this week challenged his players to go better than the 101 goals scored in 2013-14, per the club's official website.

Balotelli is a goalscorer—14 goals in 30 appearances for Milan in Serie A last season followed 12 in 13 appearances the season before, per Squawka.

He would provide a huge presence in Liverpool's front line, possessing pace, strength and power with a great touch and natural finish.

It would need solid man management by Rodgers, his back-room staff and the personnel of the club to handle Balotelli, but that investment of time and resources may well pay off on the pitch.