Gifolution: Welcome to Anfield, Mario Balotelli
According to reports Mario Balotelli is joining Liverpool for a fee of €20m. I wanted to take a very quick look at him from the viewpoint of Opta data driven heatmaps.
How does Super Mario compare with the player that he is effectively replacing, Luis Suarez? We'll start of with looking at where the two players have been shooting from over the last few seasons.
During 2010/11 and 2011/12 Balotelli shot from some very nice places, with his shots being concentrated within the penalty area.
It looks like his sojourn in Milan has resulted in Balotelli shooting from much further out. Presumably this is team driven as Milan have struggled the last couple of seasons and Mario perhaps felt that he had no option but to try to force a few shots.
Suarez seemed to tighten up his choice of shot locations in 2011/12, but other than that he has been broadly consistent with a constant smattering of shorts from areas outside the penalty area.
But what about when their teams aren't in possession of the ball. Where do they do their work in attempting to regain possession?
Heatmap for Defensive Actions
Over the last few seasons it looks like Suarez has been told to keep himself high up the pitch. Other than during the 2010/11 season, all of Suarez's red and orange hot spots have been in his attacking half.
Balotelli seems to be a bit more comfortable with defending a little deeper if required.
Whatever role Balotelli is asked to play at Liverpool, I'm sure there'll be excitement and controversy aplenty.