One of Liverpool's most damaging transfer decisions in recent years is replacing Luis Suarez with stationary's Mario Balotelli. the Italian was a desperate last resort for Liverpool, and signed for the club on the agreement he would clean up his act off the pitch - 'just cut down on the bathroom fireworks and throwing darts at youth team members, Mario' - and focus solely on football.
Brendan Rodgers spoke to him for three hours to remind him of his responsibilities, drawing him a picture to ram the message home: he drew a stickman wearing a crown, to illustrate to Balotelli that he was the king of his own destiny.
The desire that Balotelli behave himself at Liverpool did not solely manifest itself through Rodgers' mindfulness sketchings.
His contract at Liverpool included provisions for bonuses to be paid in the event of continued good behaviour, and the exact details of those clauses have been made public knowledge today. Football Leaks have brought the public light upon a host of previously confidential football documents in today's Sunday Times, and the bar Balotelli had to meet in order to earn himself a tidy million pounds were comically low.
Here's the legalese:
If during each season of the term of this contract the player is not dismissed from the field of play on three or more occasions for violent conduct, spitting at an opponent or any other person, for using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures and/or for dissent by word or action . . . then on the 30th June at the end of each season he shall receive a bonus payment of £1m.
He could still afford to be sent-off twice!
Furthermore, the club paid for his hotel for the first thirty days at Anfield, giving him a tab of £10,000. On top of his basic salary of £85,000 per week, Balotelli was to be rewarded £50,000 for every goal he scored after notching five in a single season, in either the Champions League or Premier League.
Absurdly, he only scored two in his first season, so he didn't get near it.
[The Sunday Times]