The situation is becoming desperate at Liverpool, as Mario Balotelli continues to rack up the goalless minutes in the Premier League and is finding the number of friends willing to throw an arm round his sagging shoulders diminishing.
Brendan Rodgers, despite seemingly unable to form a consistent opinion on his new line leader in the press, continues to play the Italian for the duration of league outings, only to see his faith go unpaid.
A nil-all draw with Hull last time out, in which the former Manchester City striker missed a chance from three yards with the last kick of the game, was the latest black mark on Balotelli’s record at Anfield and saw his side slip to 19/20 in the race to finish in the top four.
So turbulent has the 24-year-old’s stay on Merseyside become that the inevitable rescue rumours are now emerging. One-time Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is the first to be linked with plucking Balotelli out of his misery, with a January bid for the striker rumoured.
However, the Reds would do well to resist the obvious temptation to move Mario on, as the side’s failings in front of goal do not rest solely on the tempestuous front man’s shoulders.
Playing Balotelli with a strike partner, as Jamie Carragher has alluded to in his Sky Sports analysis, would be of great benefit to Liverpool’s attacks and the half-hour or so the ex-AC Milan man spent in tandem with Rickie Lambert against the Tigers looked promising.
It is befuddling to think that giving the league’s favourite punch line a strike partner, something Balotelli himself said he prefers, hasn’t been tested in earnest beyond the odd fleeting instance.
Isolating him, either on the pitch or off it, clearly isn’t helping his confidence, leaving just one option to try to get him firing. It doesn’t involve a sale.
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