It is with immense sadness that news.bwin.com ponder the downward trajectory of Mario Balotelli’s career plumbing new depths during the season ahead.
The talented, but flawed striker is refusing to go out on loan to Sampdoria or Lazio, despite being sent to train with the Liverpool age-group sides after being told he is surplus to requirements at Anfield by Brendan Rodgers.
According to the Daily Mirror, Balotelli is keen to remain on Merseyside long enough to trigger a ‘six-figure loyalty bonus’ which will come into effect at the close of the transfer window.
“Sources close to the controversial player insist that no matter how far into the wilderness he is thrust, he is prepared to stick it out at Anfield and pick up his pay-cheques”, says the paper’s David Maddocks.
In the face of such mulishness it seems Liverpool have no choice but to watch on as Balotelli depreciates in value faster than a second-hand Jaguar.
There is only one alternative, let Tim Sherwood have a word with him.
Aston Villa boss Sherwood has previous with applying healing hands to the complicated tangle of egocentricities and insecurities otherwise known as the Premier League striker.
Most recently he worked the oracle on Christian Benteke, who had fallen into a injury-effected trough of form two seasons long prior to the manager’s arrival at Villa Park.
Three games after Sherwood’s Valentine’s Day appointment Benteke began a scoring streak that would see him notch 13 times in as many games for club and country.
Yet the former’s masterwork to date was his short, but sweet relationship with Emmanuel Adebayor at Spurs.
Andre Villas-Boas had grown so exasperated with the Togolese line-leader that he had played him just once all season up until his sacking, with the former Arsenal man, like Balotelli, sent to train with the kids.
Sherwood started him in his first game after taking charge in December 2013 and was rewarded with a goal, the first of 14 in 24 starts together.
Liverpool and perhaps the Villans too, missed an enormous trick in not including Balotelli in a swap deal for Christian Benteke earlier this summer.
The Reds would have smuggled the Italian’s toxic presence out of the club while bringing in an exciting talent.
Meanwhile Villa could have acquired a high-calibre frontman safe in the knowledge that if anyone could rejuvenate him it’s Sherwood, the striker’s soothsayer.