Liverpool fans were understandably over the moon when news emerged that Mario Balotelli had sealed a free transfer to Ligue 1’s Nice on transfer deadline day.
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Despite arriving to much fanfare and for £16 million in 2014, the much-maligned Italian supremely failed to make the grade at Anfield and soon found himself being labelled as one of the club’s biggest ever flops.
Three goals scored in his debut season only reinforces that notion.
OPEN GOAL MISS VS QPR
Missing an open goal is every striker’s worst nightmare.
Nothing says ‘humiliation’ like failing to find the back of an open net from just a few yards out, whether it be firing over the bar or missing the ball completely.
Balotelli fell victim to the former scenario against Queens Park Rangers on October 19, 2014 (see above at 1:20), when Adam Lallana’s shot rebounded to his feet six yards out.
With an open goal in front of him, the Italian attempted to stroke the ball home but instead found row Z, much to the delight of QPR fans.
OFFERED £11K WAGES TO JOIN PALERMO
Balotelli took a £60,000-per-week wage cut to join Liverpool in 2014 but even that doesn’t compare to what he was offered by Serie A’s Palermo earlier this summer.
According to Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol, the Italian side ‘tempted’ the striker to join their ranks with an incredible £11,000-per-week wage packet.
He quickly rejected their approach in the knowledge that he earned more than that in one day at Liverpool, but it just went to show how steep a decline he has suffered.
SWAPPING SHIRTS WITH PEPE
If there’s one way to annoy football fans, it’s by swapping shirts with an opponent at half-time.
That’s exactly what Balotelli did during a 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League campaign, asking Pepe to trade jerseys as they headed into the tunnel.
Then-manager Brendan Rodgers – like most people – was left furious by the striker’s actions.
“It is not something I stand for,” he said. “If you want to do that, do it at the end of the game. It is something I will deal with on Thursday.”
“I WILL WIN THE BALLON D’OR”
There isn’t a single professional footballer that isn’t confident in his own ability – but Balotelli is something else.
Earlier this year, the 26-year-old remarkably insisted he will win the Ballon d’Or at some stage in his career having only reached ‘5/10’ – whatever that means.
“On the scale of 0 to 10, I stopped at five,” he said, “but I’ll get to 10 eventually. I want to get there. I will win the Ballon d’Or.
“I know, the Ballon d’Or might seem laughable and I might not have done everything to be the best, but the important thing is I realised it’s not too late.”
It’s definitely too late, Mario.
TRAINING WITH LIVERPOOL’S RESERVES
There wasn’t much hope for Balotelli upon his return to Liverpool and that notion was soon confirmed when Klopp demoted him to training with the reserves.
Whilst the first team were in America preparing for the new Premier League season, Balotelli was training with the club’s up-and-coming players.
Balotelli seemed content with his situation at Liverpool – he posted a picture on Instagram (see above) with his younger teammates – but to be excluded entirely from the first team will have been a hard pill to swallow.