Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has spoken candidly regarding his unsuccessful attempts to replace Luis Suarez during his final full season in charge at Anfield. In a lengthy television interview given on 17 January, he lamented the failure to sign Alexis Sanchez before his move to Arsenal, and also appeared to suggest that the decision to recruit Mario Balotelli was one made by the club's transfer committee rather than himself.
After scoring 82 goals in all competitions – including 31 alongside Daniel Sturridge during the 2013/14 campaign that saw Liverpool come within points of their first title of the Premier League era – Suarez joined Barcelona in July 2014 in a deal worth £75m ($107m). Such a departure had a predictably devastating impact as the Reds' top-flight goal tally almost halved from 101 to 52 as they slipped from second place to sixth in just one campaign.
Liverpool spent in excess of £100m during that same summer window, operating with a transfer committee that Rodgers claimed resulted in decisions regarding new players being made by a group rather than him alone. Rickie Lambert and Balotelli were eventually brought in to try and compensate for the loss of the influential Uruguayan, but it was Sanchez that was initially viewed as the ideal solution.
"The huge blow was that we thought we were getting Alexis Sanchez and that he'd be a like-for-like replacement, in terms of how he pressed the game and his aggression," the 42-year-old, who was sacked in October 2015 and swiftly replaced by Jurgen Klopp, told Sky Sports' Goals on Sunday programme. "We thought he'd be perfect, it'd be a smooth transition, and Rickie Lambert would come in and be an option if we needed something else in the game.
"But we didn't get Alexis Sanchez and, bless Rickie, there was a lot of pressure on him when really that wasn't the plan. So we had to bring in someone. After the AC Milan game, I was asked the question and I felt Mario wasn't someone who suited the profile of what we were after."
Despite Rodgers not appearing to favour a deal for Balotelli, Liverpool, conscious that they were running out of options, eventually brought the fiery ex-Manchester City striker back to English football for a £16m fee that, at the time, Rodgers publicly hailed as "outstanding value".
The move did not go according to plan, however, with the 25-year-old notching just one Premier League goal during a frustrating season before being sent back to Milan in August 2015 on a season-long loan. He recently returned to first-team action with a late substitute's cameo in the the 2-0 Serie A win over Fiorentina after more than three months out following surgery to correct a groin injury.
Shedding further light on a deal that certainly backfired, Rodgers added: "Mario has big talent. I wasn't thinking I'd be any different in terms of managers who've had issues with him but, at that moment, we didn't really have another option.
"Come the end of the summer we were struggling to get in the type of player we wanted and the ownership thought this was a player I could develop. It didn't quite work for us and it cost us."