5 Things Mario Balotelli Must Get Right at Liverpool to Succeed
Balotelli will score goals in the Premier League and Champions League, and he'll add another dimension to their attack, helping to fill the void left by Luis Suarez.
If we're talking longer-term, however, I can't see Balotelli staying the course. As long as everybody accepts that, there's much to be excited about.
The focus for Liverpool right now is their first season back in the Champions League. If Balotelli can make a difference there, he's worth the investment.
Based on my experience of signing for Liverpool as a player, here are five things Balotelli must get right to succeed at Anfield.
Pick a Good Base
Central Liverpool can feel like the world's biggest global village. Gossip spreads really quickly, and you're under the spotlight constantly, so you need to find a base outside of the city centre.
There are areas like Birkdale, where a lot of the players live and you can stay a little more under the radar. Balotelli needs to find a location where there's still plenty going on, but he's not as vulnerable to the type of incidents that marked his time at Manchester City.
Make Friends in the Dressing Room
It's key for Balotelli to win over his team-mates, especially new strike partner Daniel Sturridge. He needs to make a conscious effort to build a relationship with Sturridge and make himself accessible.
Balotelli cannot afford to turn up and show off his wealth or act like he's a bigger star than anybody else in the dressing.
It's funny at the start when somebody acts like that, but players soon enough get tired of it, and you make yourself a natural scapegoat when things go wrong.
Open Communication with the Manager
Balotelli needs to be open and honest about what he can deliver Liverpool. I can't see him staying anywhere more than three or four years, so he needs to focus on giving Brendan Rodgers as good as he can for as long as he's there.
Secretly, Rodgers will know that Balotelli won't be staying around that long. Their relationship is key, so Balotelli should be transparent in everything he does and keep Rodgers informed of his every intention.
Contracts these days are often longer than they should be. Liverpool will pay a decent amount of money for Balotelli, so they'll want to tie him up for a few years. That doesn't mean he'll see the term through.
Seek Help, Lean on the Experts
Steve Peters is a great sports psychologist who works with Liverpool and England, and he could have an influence on the Balotelli we see at Anfield.
Peters has a fine record of working with teams and individuals like Suarez, and he could be the man Balotelli finally opens up to.
Balotelli needs to get rid of the stupid haircuts and stupid T-shirts and walk toward Liverpool as much they need to walk toward him.
With the greatest of respect to Manchester City and AC Milan, Liverpool are on another level. They are a global superclub of a stature beyond anything Balotelli has been a part of.
Every morsel of Balotelli news will be read all over the world with intense interest, so he has to come across as a team player for Liverpool and make the point clear he is contributing to a great club with a great tradition.
If he turns up thinking he's the finished article, the love affair won't last long. Liverpool have had players like Kevin Keegan, Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish over the years. Balotelli must be humble to their legacies.
Even Suarez knew he needed to play the family man and act respectfully around the club.
Stan Collymore is a former Liverpool and England striker who contributes a weekly column and video analysis for Bleacher Report.
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