Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers paid a dubious tribute to one of his worst signings as Liverpool boss at his new club’s awards ceremony at the weekend.
Fresh from demolishing Glasgow rivals Rangers on Saturday afternoon, Rodgers was understandably in fine form, and also found a clever way of dodging what was a pretty awkward question at Celtic’s end of season awards party.
When asked who was the best player he has ever coached, the Bhoys manager, with a decent list to choose from in several different leagues, including Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair, but opted for everyone’s favourite maverick Italian striker…
— talkingbaws (@talkingbaws) April 30, 2017
After a brief pause to build the tension, Rodgers answered, to the delight of the crowd:
“He was a fantastic player.”
Balotelli, of course, had an infamously miserable one-season period at Liverpool, arriving from AC Milan in a £16m panic move in the scramble to replace Suarez, going on to score just one Premier League goal at the club. He was loaned back to the Rossoneri one year later, before signing for Nice on a free transfer at the beginning of this season.
His relationship with Rodgers was fractious almost from the very beginning, and clearly, time has not done much for the relationship between the two.
That said, both have gone on to have successful seasons away from Anfield. While Rodgers is on the verge of winning the domestic treble in his first season at Celtic Park, Balotelli’s Nice have secured Champions League football for next season and have kept up the pace in the Ligue 1 title race.
The 26-year-old’s contract actually expires at the end of this season, but don’t expect a tearful reunion with Rodgers in the Scottish Premiership.