Balotelli capable of replacing Suarez – James

The 24-year-old has endured a rollercoaster career but the former England No.1 believes Brendan Rodgers can succeed with him where others have failed

By Rahul Bali

Mario Balotelli is capable of filling the void left by the departed Luis Suarez at Liverpool, according to David James.

Balotelli arrived at Liverpool’s Melwood training complex on Friday to finalise the details of a €20 million move to Anfield, with the deal set to be announced early this week.

The mercurial 24-year-old will be tasked with helping Brendan Rodgers replace the scoring prowess of Suarez, who joined Barcelona in a €88m deal this summer after netting 31 goals in the Premier League last season.

Few doubt Balotelli’s ability but his temperament has been questioned throughout his rollercoaster career, while previous managers Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini both became exasperated with his inconsistency.

But James, who made over 200 appearances in seven years at Liverpool and is now player-manager of Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters, believes in the ability of Brendan Rodgers and his Anfield coaching team to succeed where others have failed.

“Mario Balotelli is a gifted player,” the former England international told Goal. “He has been in the spotlight as a very young player. You grow up.

“With that sort of talent and with the way Liverpool have bought players into the club, they wouldn’t bring in someone who wasn’t capable of fulfilling what they require in that position.

“I’m sure there will be stories about him – good stories and other. Probably most of them wouldn’t be true like the old ones.

“The reality is that Liverpool will bring him in as a player and if he delivers as Suarez did on the field, then he will be a good acquisition and fans will stick behind him.”

James also had words of praise for Raheem Sterling, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise to domestic and international prominence since working his way back into the Liverpool team last November.

“Raheem Sterling’s positives from last season are superb,” he added. “For a young man, 19 years of age, when he does something good it is usually sensational.

“There were always question marks over areas of his game and understanding at such a young age, which is something you develop. I think this season he has already shown that he is starting to develop with a better understanding of the game.”

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