Mario Balotelli Is the Perfect Replacement for Luis Suarez at Liverpool

Stuart NewmanFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2014

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 18:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan looks on prior to the Serie A match between AC Milan and US Sassuolo Calcio at San Siro Stadium on May 18, 2014 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The story of Liverpool’s summer transfer window has been a guessing game—who exactly will come in to fill the enormous boots of Luis Suarez for the 2014/15 campaign?

While we've seen endless elite names head both in and out of the Reds' rumour mill, it appears that manager Brendan Rodgers has finally found the man to lead the club’s front line.

As BBC Sport revealed, striker Mario Balotelli is on the verge of completing a £16 million move to Merseyside to replace Suarez, as the powers-that-be at Anfield swap controversy for controversy.

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 18:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and US Sassuolo Calcio at San Siro Stadium on May 18, 2014 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The Uruguayan's exploits in the Liverpool shirt rather tarnished the club's reputation at times, and you'd think they'd decide to lay low and limit the madness in their squad this season.

Not a second of it, though, as the fire in Suarez's belly is exactly what made him such a star—and something that Balotelli has in abundance.

The Italian is the kind of player who plays with his heart, and when he wants to win, he wins.

BERGAMO, ITALY - MAY 11:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan shows his dejection during the Serie A match between Atalanta BC and AC Milan at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia on May 11, 2014 in Bergamo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The only problem is that when he decides that he doesn't care about the game, you may as well put a traffic cone up front—it's just as effective.

All that comes down to man management, and while some of the best in the business have tried their luck with Balotelli, none has really succeeded.

Rodgers, though, is different.

The Liverpool boss has found the formula to bring the very best out of players since taking over at Anfield, and while forcing the "unmanageable" Italian through his paces will be like taming a lion at times, Rodgers certainly holds the whip.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool applauds his team during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield on August 17, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Suarez's phenomenal campaign in 2012/13 proved as much, as he finally let his football do the talking after too many years of landing the club in hot water.

What followed was a season that'll go down in the Premier League history books forever, and if Rodgers can have that effect on a player with Suarez, then why can't he do it again?

Should the Northern Irishman find a way to bring the best out of Balotelli, then the results could also be devastating, as the Italian is hardly shy on the goal front—something that journalist Mike Holden remarked upon:

As Squawka Football revealed, the 24-year-old has scored 26 goals since making his debut for AC Milan back in 2013—a figure that only the SAS themselves can top:

Balotelli's finishing ability has never come under speculation, he is simply dynamite in the box—despite displaying the occasional bit of arrogance that leans towards unsportsmanlike conduct while in front of goal.

The fact that he can score with either foot, his head and even his shoulder is what really matters, though, and the inevitable hassle from having such a controversial striker in your ranks will likely be worth it for the Reds.

It’s going to happen, isn't it? Should Balotelli make the switch to Anfield, then something will put him on the front page of every U.K. newspaper, whether it be a simple slogan on a T-shirt or a harmless game of setting fireworks off in his home.

JON SUPER/Associated Press

Yes indeed, the British press must be looking forward to the field day that is tracking the Italian's every movement, but it's his conduct on the pitch that really matters.

If there's one thing you can criticise Suarez for last season, it's going missing in important matches. Hat-tricks against Norwich City are all well and good, but with titles at stake, big players are needed for the big occasions.

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

Meanwhile, a player like Balotelli thrives on them, as he simply craves the goal when there's a lot at stake—quite possibly just to annoy opposing fans!

If the 24-year-old signs at Anfield, he'll link up with Daniel Sturridge up front, and it’s safe to say that the pair are a perfect match.

A feature of the SAS' brilliance last season was dynamic movement—one player taking defenders away to allow the other a route to goal.

Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

In Balotelli, Sturridge would have a strike partner whose movement ranks up there with the very best; and while he may not force a smile out of his fellow forward, the goals will undoubtedly rain down once again.

With Liverpool, Balotelli has the chance to go back to being a footballer, being an idol rather than someone that gentlemen of the game look at and tut.

Replacing Suarez is no easy feat, but if the 24-year-old adopts the right attitude both on and off the pitch, with guidance from Rodgers, then fans may well be saying "Luis who?"