Struggling Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli insists criticism of his performances this season does not affect him and he is putting in more effort than ever before. The Italian international has yet to score in the English Premier League since his £16m summer move from AC Milan with his two goals coming against Bulgarian UEFA Champions League opponents Ludogorets and Swansea City in the League Cup.
There is added pressure on the 24-year-old in the continued absence of Daniel Sturridge, who has not played for his club since August 31 because of injury and was this week ruled out until 2015 by a new thigh problem. But Balotelli stressed his approval rating outside his inner circle is not something which concerns him.
“I don’t need people to believe in me so long as I believe in myself,” he told Fox Sports Australia. “The important people for me are my family and my few close friends.”
Criticism of Balotelli has centred not only around his lack of goals but the apparent unwillingness to put in the effort on the pitch. However, the striker insists he is working harder than ever before and rated his overall performance as 7/10 – a half-point increase on the assessment of himself two years ago.
“I run more than before,” he added. “I’ve never run like this…so I give a half point more. Goals, they will come. It is something that’s just not coming at the moment.”
One of the challenges for Balotelli is that he is not a 20+ goalscorer like Daniel Sturridge or Luis Suárez. Super Mario has never scored more than 18 goals in any season. So the expectations are that he can replace BOTH Sturridge and Suarez, which us unfair as he is not that type of player.