Balotelli to Fowler: Liverpool's history of controversial strikers

Aug 22, 2014
Jonathan Harwood

'Bonkers' Mario Balotelli will not be the first bad boy to play up front at Anfield


Mario Balotelli was today flying to England for a medical as his proposed £16m switch from AC Milan to Liverpool inched closer to completion. However, he will not be able to play against his former club Manchester City on Monday after the midday deadline for his registration passed.

The two clubs have agreed a fee and the player has said farewell to Milan. However personal terms are yet to be agreed, although Liverpool are thought to have offered the player £120,000 a week.

Additionally, says the BBC, "Liverpool are understood to have sought assurances from Balotelli about his commitment and off-field behaviour". And, according to the Daily Mirror, "Rodgers will not give the green light to the biggest transfer shock of the summer, until he has met Balotelli face to face, and assured himself that the 24-year-old can accept the culture of professional commitment at the club".

But although 'Bonkers' Balotelli's reputation goes before him, Liverpool are no strangers to controversial strikers:

Luis Suarez:

The Uruguayan arrived from Ajax for £23m in January 2011 with a reputation as a troublemaker with a penchant for biting opponents. He left three years later with that reputation intact, if not enhanced. He rose to global notoriety with a blatant handball at the 2010 World Cup, which helped Uruguay beat Ghana. Two months before arriving in England he was banned for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal, and then, while at Liverpool, he racially abused Patrice Evra of Man United, and refused to shake his hand when the two teams next met. He also bit Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and angled for a move away from Liverpool in 2013. He eventually left for Barcelona this summer in a £75m deal despite being banned for four months for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup in Brazil.

Andy Carroll:

The injury-prone Geordie striker arrived at Anfield from Newcastle for £35m within hours of Suarez in 2011. Prior to his move to Merseyside, Carroll had been living with Newcastle team-mate Kevin Nolan while on bail, having been charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend. The charges were later dropped. A season earlier Carroll was involved in a row with another Newcastle team-mate, Steven Taylor, who was left with a broken jaw. Carroll was later seen with bandaged fists and it was reported he had somehow broken his hand. There were other incidents involving police during Carroll's earlier career and while at Liverpool he was warned by then England manager Fabio Capello to stop drinking. He left Liverpool on loan in 2012, after Brendan Rodgers took over, and now plays for West Ham.

Nicolas Anelka :

The 'incredible sulk' has had a nomadic career and played for Liverpool for one season in 2001-2, while on loan from Paris Saint-Germain. The striker, who left West Brom in disgrace after being banned for performing an anti-Semitic "quenelle" gesture, scored four goals in 20 games for the Reds but then manager Gerard Houllier decided not to sign him permanently, and opted instead for...

El Hadji Diouf:

If Suarez's weakness is for biting people, Diouf's problem was spitting at them. He was signed by the Reds after an impressive showing for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup, but established himself as footballing pariah later that season when he spat at a Celtic fan during a Uefa Cup match. He was banned, fined and ordered to make a donation to charity. The following season he made history for a Liverpool number nine by failing to score a single goal. He did pick up 13 yellow cards and one red that season though. He left the club in 2004, and his career since then has been dogged by allegations of spitting, racial abuse and violence.

Stan Collymore:

Now known as a media pundit, Stan Collymore was regarded as a future superstar when he arrived at Liverpool from Nottingham Forest in 1995. The manner of his departure from Forest earned him few friends and despite scoring on his debut and striking up a partnership with Robbie Fowler he was never hugely popular at Anfield and he left the club in 1997. A year later he was exposed as a wife-beater after punching his then girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson in a Paris bar. In 2007 he was arrested over threats to kill his ex-wife and burn down her home. Now a radio presenter, Collymore has battled depression and mental illness.

Robbie Fowler:

The Liverpool legend was revered by the Kop and scored almost 200 goals for the club in two spells at Anfield. The local lad was one of the so-called Spice Boys, along with Collymore and others, who were seen as underachieving playboys who lived overly lavish lifestyles. In 1999 he famously celebrated a goal against Everton, who had been taunting him with allegations of drug abuse, by pretending to sniff cocaine from a white line in the penalty area. He was fined and charged with bringing the game into disrepute. He also got into trouble when he mocked Graeme le Saux over claims of homosexuality, presenting his backside to the Chelsea defender during a game. He later apologised. His popularity among Liverpool fans even survived a stint playing for Leeds.

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