Striker Mario Balotelli may still have a role to play at Liverpool, said manager Brendan Rodgers today, citing the club’s lack of an out and out scapegoat for when things get rocky this season.
Amid widespread speculation that the club are trying to offload the former AC Milan forward, Rodgers stated that Balotelli’s competence at fulfilling the role of scapegoat may grant him an Anfield reprieve.
“He was really impressive in that role last season,” admitted the manager. “He was essentially signed as a message to the owners that we couldn’t buy anyone better, and he backed it up more than we could have expected.”
Rodgers revealed that players like Balotelli are a vital cog in whatever a side does throughout the season.
“When the season gets down to the nitty gritty, you need a variety of different types of players. You need the guy who can come on and nick a goal, or the lad who can take the sting out of a game. However, that player who can take the brunt of blame for the team’s issues is just as important.”
Rodgers added that the longer Balotelli stays, the more agitated he’s likely to get, which can only be a good thing when a patch of bad form comes along.
“People will say what they want – sensationalise things,” said the Northern Irishman. “They’ll say Mario has grown up and matured but I know that when I need him, he’ll be there to do something to alleviate the pressure on the rest of us.”
Rodgers finished the press conference by adding that playing or not playing, he trusts Balotelli to be a key distraction for his squad this year.
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