Former Liverpool forward Rickie Lambert has revealed that Mario Balotelli used to ruin training sessions with his bizarre behaviour on Merseyside.
Lambert says the way Balotelli trained frustrated him as the Italian was ahead of him in the pecking order despite not putting his all into the sessions.
The retired England international claims Balotelli used to throw tantrums when things were not going his way and that he would disrupt training games by scoring own goals to show off his anger.
Speaking to Eurosport, Lambert explained Balotelli’s bizarre behaviour in training for Liverpool. “I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest. At first, he gave everything when he played. But in training, I could tell he wasn’t giving his all. He was answering Brendan [Rodgers] back and my head went with that.
“The fact that he was playing in front of me didn’t bother me at first, I thought ‘I’ll get myself in’ but just seeing the way he was in training, and then he was playing, it did affect me a little bit.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – FEBRUARY 26: Rickie Lambert of Liverpool walks to take a penalty in the shoot out during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg match between Besiktas JK and Liverpool FC on February 26, 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
“My head went with him in training and I had to go in and say to Brendan ‘don’t put me on his team again’. I think Stevie [Gerrard] had said the same. His head would just go. If it wasn’t going his way, he would just ruin the session basically. He’d kick the ball away, score an own goal. I was speaking to Joe Hart and the lads at England and they were like ‘he was like that at City’. I’d ask them ‘how did he get away with it?. They just shook their heads.”
ANFIELD WATCH VERDICT
Balotelli sounds like he was a very disruptive influence behind the scenes at Liverpool with his bizarre antics. Of course, this is only Lambert’s account of working with Balotelli, but there does not seem to be any reason for the former Southampton man to be lying about this. It is not healthy for the squad to have a player causing frustration within the camp in training, as it can affect morale and cause tensions to rise – potentially leading to conflicts and more drama than is needed off the pitch.
The Italian striker seemingly became annoyed too easily in training and took it out on his teammates, instead of channeling it in a positive way to better his own performance in training and in matches. It suggests that Balotelli needed calming down and that the club were not able to find a way to do so. This led to, as Lambert explains, players not wanting to be on his side in training.
I’m a 22-year-old football writer from Lowestoft. I produce, edit, and publish articles for Anfield Watch full-time.