Mario Balotelli hasn’t exactly won himself many fans in a Liverpool shirt since arriving at the club, but as a fan of all things Italian I can’t help but love Balo. He’s a bit of an enigma in my eyes and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m wearing rose-tinted glasses.
With this in mind, I thought I would take a look at both Mario Balotelli and Christian Benteke as we find ourselves right in the midst of a transfer rumour mill.
Benteke has been linked with the Reds since the back end of last season and the ticker tape across all major sports websites is still flickering updates of the latest in the Benteke to Liverpool saga.
A £32.5m buy-out clause apparently exists for Christian Benteke. For me, this is far too big a price tag. The Belgian is a good player but he’s not worth £32.5m and it would be a risk for the Reds I feel to fork out that amount of cash. Benteke is a far better player than Andy Carroll but after throwing away £35m on him, I always get anxious when we’re chasing a £30m+ player.
Mario Balotelli came to Liverpool for a transfer fee of £14m, which when considering he had just left an AC Milan side after scoring 30 goals in 54 games, was a good price. However, it is also a risk when buying a player like the Italian, because of his attitude and infamous on/off pitch shenanigans along with the accusation of a poor work ethic.
Both players are 24, indicating that both still have the potential to grow and improve. Mario Balotelli has had several bites at the cherry already but I feel he deserves another season at Liverpool and a real chance to play in a front two. His time at AC Milan proved he can be a skilful and reliable striker scoring 20+ in a season, but I would be lying if I said he was consistent.
Benteke has proved he has the right mentality and is a player who knows his game. The one thing that does concern me about Benteke is he appears to be a player that needs an arm around his shoulder constantly and I’m not sure Brendan Rodgers can offer that.
Serie A and Belgian Pro League
Mario Balotelli made 102 appearances in Serie A, scoring 46 goals and notching up 21 assists. In a league renowned for its defensive strength I find those stats pretty convincing.
Christian Benteke played in the Belgian Pro League, he made 91 appearances scoring 28 goals and providing 15 assists. Again, this is nothing to be sniffed at but the Belgian League isn’t exactly the best. Part of me wonders why his goal tally didn’t soar even higher, especially after such a great start in the Premier League.
Even I can’t deny Balotelli’s current stats in the Premier League do not make for fantastic reading. Balo has made 70 appearances, scored 21 goals and assisted on just four occasions.
As for Christian Benteke? He took to the Premier League like a duck to water – in 89 appearances he has already scored 42 goals, providing nine assists in the process.
When looking at minutes per goal though things become tighter between the two players. Balotelli has played 3,947 minutes in the Premier League, whilst Benteke has played a massive 7,324 minutes. This leaves Balotelli on 188 minutes per goal and Benteke on 174 minutes per goal.
You have to wonder if the former Manchester City striker could improve on his return if he was given more chances on the pitch. The issue here is fans have grown tired of Balotelli, with some often noting a “lack of effort” from the player, so there is little patience left.
For me, when weighing up the two players, it boils down to that price tag. Benteke is a top player but £32.5m is a hell of a lot of money to spend on a striker who we don’t really need in my opinion. A fully fit Sturridge alongside Balotelli could work very well and on the rare occasions they played together last season, it sparked some exciting play. I would much rather spend some of that transfer kitty on the defence.
Nevertheless, Benteke is clearly a very good player, I’m not sure he would fit in to the Liverpool team but then neither does Balotelli under Brendan’s current choice of setup. If Benteke does arrive this summer I will support him as I do with every player who pulls on the red shirt but for me, I’d like to give Mario just one last life.
You can check out Kirsty’s blog website at www.the-liver-bird.co.uk.
(*All stats for this blog post were taken from www.transfermarkt.co.uk)