Brendan Rodgers has hinted that Mario Balotelli will make his Liverpool debut when his side travel to Tottenham this weekend.
After being decimated by Manchester City last time out, avoiding another defeat at White Hart Lane is paramount and, judging from their manager’s comments, it looks as though the Italian will be pitched in less than a week after his £16m move from Milan.
“I think by the weekend [he’ll be ready to feature]. “He’s been into pre-season and he’s played three 45-minute games. He might not be up to full match speed, but he’s looking fit.”
A seat on the bench is what beckons for Balotelli having read between the lines of this statement.
Fellow new recruits Rickie Lambert, Lazar Markovic and Emre Can are all waiting for their first starts in Liverpool colours, which further fuels speculation that the tempestuous Italian is going to start his Reds career as a substitute.
A quick glance at the 24-year-old’s debuts at top-level clubs, however, indicates that if Rodgers wants his charges to claim a 17/10-rated victory in north London, he must start Super Mario.
His Milan bow was the only one of three first appearances that ended victoriously for Balotelli, who bagged a brace in the Rossoneri’s 2-1 win over Udinese.
Massimiliano Allegri was wise enough to start him that day and was duly rewarded, but Roberto Mancini wasn’t quite as clever.
The Man City fans savoured their first taste of the man they paid £24m to sign when Mancini flung him in from the sidelines as the Citizens succumbed to a 3-0 defeat against Arsenal.
It was the same boss who granted him his Inter debut too, bringing him on for Esteban Cambiasso as his Nerazzurri outfit failed to beat Roma at the San Siro.
The game finished 1-1 with Balotelli picking up a yellow card in the 32 minutes he was on the pitch.
Should he start for Liverpool against Spurs, back him to bag a goal at 7/1, should he begin on the bench though, side with a home win at 33/20.