Liverpool and Arsenal shocked everyone by signing Mario Balotelli and Danny Welbeck from AC Milan and Manchester United respectively in the summer, for £16m each.
Arsenal were in dire need of a striker after Olivier Giroud suffered a serious foot injury (broken foot) that would rule him out till January. With Radamel Falcao moving to Manchester United, Edinson Cavani seemingly happy at PSG and Roma unwilling to sell Mattia Destro, Arsenal had been left with limited options in the transfer market. In the end (on the transfer deadline day) they signed Welbeck, who was deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford.
Liverpool on the other hand were looking for an established striker who would add sufficient depth to the squad. When Balotelli was offered for a reasonable price, Brendan Rodgers wasted no time in securing his signature.
Balotelli, 24, is already an international superstar. He was one of the best performers for Italy in the Euro 2012 and led the attacking line for his country in the FIFA 2014 World Cup. He is already a Champions League winner and has won league titles in Italy and England with Inter Milan and Manchester City respectively.
Overall, he is a top talent and getting him for £16m is a bargain. But at the same time he is unpredictable and a dangerous player to have in the team. Therefore his signing is a big gamble but a risk worth taking for. He is a proven match winner and if Rodgers can get the best out of him, Liverpool will soon feel that the void of Luis Suarez had been well replenished.
Having said that, Balotelli is still a raw talent and far from being a complete player. He scored 30 goals in 54 appearances for AC Milan during his two years’ stay at the club, but only 15 of those were from open play. He has never scored 20 goals in a season and that is something he should be aiming to achieve at Liverpool.
Danny Welbeck may not be as talented as Balotelli but he could prove to be a brilliant signing for Arsenal in the coming days. Welbeck is a typical modern-day striker who is adaptable enough to carry out multiple roles. He is strong, quick, energetic and contributes more to the game than by just simply scoring goals.
He is tactically disciplined and puts in valuable defensive shifts when required. However, the only thing missing from his game is his finishing ability. He has a poor goals-per-game ratio which he must improve at Arsenal.
He gets into good goal scoring positions every match but his finishing lets him down more often than not. Against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, he got three brilliant chances to score, but failed to capitalise on the opportunities presented.
Welbeck with his bundles of energy and raw pace is likely to create space for the attacking midfielders to exploit, but the England international needs to improve on his finishing – an aspect of his game which unfortunately cannot be improved overnight.
Balotelli is a good finisher but he needs proper support from other surrounding players. He can make a big impact for Liverpool, if he stays away from off-pitch distractions and instead focus on bettering himself as a player.