Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp has condemned Mario Balotelli for his controversial match-winning penalty against Besiktas and thinks the striker will leave Liverpool at the end of the season.
Balotelli converted the spot-kick to earn Liverpool a narrow first-leg lead in their Europa League last-32 encounter at Anfield on Thursday, but only after a disagreement with Jordan Henderson, the captain on the night, and Daniel Sturridge over who would take it.
Speaking on the Morning View on Sky Sports News HQ, Redknapp expressed his anger over the Italian’s decision, and believes Balotelli’s days at Liverpool are numbered.
“I think if you look at Balotelli, I don’t think he’s got any respect for anybody,” he said. “If you look at the managers he’s worked with previously, everybody has tried their best with this guy, and he just doesn’t seem to have any respect for anybody – even his own team-mates.
If you look at the managers he’s worked with previously, everybody has tried the best with his guy, and he just doesn't seem to have any respect for anybody, even his own team mates.
“The most important thing when you do this is that you score it, and now Liverpool have to move on.
“But it always feels like it’s Balotelli involved, every time there’s a problem at Liverpool this season, he seems the person that causes the problems.
“Everyone’s tried with this young man and tried to get that final flourish out of him, and hopefully he can keep scoring goals for Liverpool. But I don’t see a long-term future for him at Liverpool.
“I don’t think that he will start at the weekend, and I think at the end of the season we won’t see Mario Balotelli at Liverpool anymore.”
Former West Ham defender Tony Gale was equally critical of Balotelli, claiming his actions were “bang out of order".
“The ball ends up in the back of the net but it causes disruption in the camp. In my dressing room he might have got a clump off somebody," Gale said.
“For me he’s a wrong 'un and was from the start of the season.”
But despite his condemnation of Balotelli’s behaviour, Gale said Henderson should have shown better leadership during the incident, suggesting the midfielder should have responded to Balotelli with more confidence.
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Gale added: "Jordan should have been a lot stronger,” he said. “(You've) just got to take the ball off of him.
“Whoever’s designated to take the penalty before the game, takes the penalty. The same goes if you are on a free kick.”
Steve Howey, who was also in the studio for the Morning View, joined the criticism of Balotelli’s conduct, but argued Henderson was right to let the striker take the penalty.
“We all know, the most predictable thing about Mario is he’s unpredictable,” said Howey. “If Henderson had said ‘no’, and all of sudden it becomes a skirmish between them... it looks so unprofessional.
“Henderson and Sturridge have done well – let him have the ball and we’ll have a word with you at the end.”