Miserable experience at Liverpool is character building, says Mino Raiola.
Italy striker has to adapt to team's strengths or wither and die.
Mario Balotelli’s agent has told theplayer to stop sulking and fight for a place in the Liverpool starting XI.
Balotelli has endured a torrid start to his Anfield careeer, and still awaits his first league goal, but Mino Raiola said the player would ultimately benefit from the experience.
“Liverpool are different from other clubs, Raiola told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “There, [because of Brendan Rodgers’s philosophy] they can’t allow themselves 10 players who run and a superstar [who doesn’t]. Mario is a player who changes a game for you in two or three moments, so they have to adapt to him and him to them.
“I saw him on Monday and said: ‘You’ve got a [long] contract and I’m not taking you away. Either you leave Liverpool for €60m or €70m and I win the bet or you die there’. It’s the first time that I’ve had such a conversation with a player. I saw that he was calm, changed, different with respect to at Milan. Very disappointed in himself too.
“He is going through times he’s never had before. Before everybody wanted him to do well. He had space. At Liverpool, no: either you do as we say or you stay out [of the team]. Then he was out injured for eight weeks. He lost rhythm.”
Raiola said that Balotelli has been affected by personal issues at Anfield andhad been unable to see his daughter Pia as often as he would like.
“Finally there’s the story about his daughter,” Raiola said. “Pia has changed him but Mario has also found a woman [the girl’s mother] who won’t give him peace. If he organises to go see her on this day at this place, like clockwork there’s a doctor’s letter saying the little one has a fever. And Mario suffers a lot from this.
“The real Mario has the ability to be the best in the world but not the character. And this phase at Liverpool is the most important lesson he has had. He has a sensational physique. Ronaldo does too but to keep it he has to drink mineral water. Mario eats spaghetti, cotoletta, he drinks iced tea. Now he is applying himself well. His private life is more settled. And there’s no sense in asking whether Liverpool is the right place: it’s the only place.”
The agent, who has worked with Balotelli for the past five years, added that the player seems much calmer at Liverpool than he was at his former club Milan, where he was expected to shoulder more responsibility.He admits, though, that bringing the forward back to Italy from Manchester City was one of the biggest mistakes of his career.
“Of all the champions I have represented I have never met one who has been forced to go through the injustices Mario has gone through,” Raiola said.
“People don’t know him. The truth is that Mario is an insecure kid and in his insecurity perhaps he sometimes does silly things. I have always wanted to satisfy my players. With others I have gone with my own mind but with him no. ‘I need my mum, my friends, Italy,’ he said. Being a dad and wanting to make him happy I brought him back to Italy from City. It was one of the biggest mistakes of my career.
“I should have said to him: ‘You’re not going back to Italy. City are a great club. They’ll never let you down. This is the football that counts [one of the best leagues in the world] and you want to leave it’. I’m convinced I was wrong for another reason too: Milan needed a leader. Give the ball to Mario, he scores and everyone is happy. But he is not a leader and it was wrong to ask him to be one. There are great players who aren’t leaders, and other not-so-great players who are.”