Monday 23 April 2018

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli returns to Merseyside and says 'I will win the Ballon d'Or'

Balotelli has endured two barren years in front of goal. Getty Images
Balotelli has endured two barren years in front of goal. Getty Images

Mark Critchley

Mario Balotelli has returned to Liverpool and declared his intention to win the Ballon d’Or.

The 25-year-old striker will train with Jürgen Klopp, the club’s manager, for the first time on Saturday having spent last season on loan at Milan.

Balotelli was signed by former boss Brendan Rodgers from the Serie A side two years ago and endured a miserable first year at Anfield, scoring just four goals in 28 appearances.

The Italy international’s scoring record was just as poor on his return to Milan and he now finds himself far down Liverpool’s pecking order and without any potential escape routes.

Two barren years have not, however, dampened Balotelli’s irrepressible self-confidence and he is convinced that he will win the most-coveted individual prize in world football.

When asked if too much expectation has previously been placed on him, he told Corriere della Sera: “In my view there weren’t enough, as I can do so much more than what I said. But it takes time.

“On the scale of 0 to 10, I stopped at five, but I’ll get to 10 eventually. I want to get there. I will win the Ballon d’Or.

“I do realise that I’ve spent two years of my career when I could’ve been getting closer to 10 and instead stayed at five,” Balotelli added.

“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.”

Balotelli’s erratic behaviour is seen by many as a threat to his considerable talent. Jose Mourinho, who worked with Balotelli at Internazionale, famously described him as ‘unmanageable’.

The 25-year-old, however, has insisted that he wants to look back on his career with no regrets and is keen to make the most of his abilities.

“I don’t want to reach the end of my career with the regret of not doing everything I can to be the best. Up until two years ago I made do with what I had.

“I did well, knew I could play, so I was happy. It wasn’t in my mind to improve, as I thought that was enough.

“Over the last two years I started working seriously, yet the results did not arrive. Maybe I am paying the price for the previous 23 years.

“I am relaxed, though, as I am aware that in the last two years things have changed completely.”

Balotelli could appear in Liverpool’s first pre-season friendly against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park on 8 July.

Independent News Service

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