It's not all about you, Mario, insists Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he won’t build his team around Mario Balotelli as the maverick Italy striker prepares to make his return to the Premier League at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (Aug 31).
Balotelli is in contention to make his Liverpool debut at White Hart Lane following his £16 million ($26 million) move from AC Milan earlier this week.
The 24-year-old has already impressed his new team-mates in training and his potent combination of power and poise make him an intriguing addition as Rodgers looks to reinvigorate his forward line following Luis Suarez’s move to Barcelona.
But, while Rodgers trusted Suarez enough to make him the focal point of Liverpool’s attack, he doesn’t plan to let the gifted but psychologically fragile Balotelli carry the same burden.
Instead, he wants the former Manchester City star, who quit England in January 2013 after a series of training ground rows and off-field controversies, to complement the predatory instincts of England striker Daniel Sturridge.
Asked how much responsibility Balotelli has to compensate for the loss of Suarez, who was Liverpool’s top scorer with 31 goals last season, Rodgers said: “No more than the rest of the team. He is a member of the team.
“This is not the Mario Balotelli show. He is a good player, a talented player. But he has got a lot of work to do here.
“We have a number of top-class players and the star of this team will always be the team.
“We are looking to bring him in and he can play with Daniel Sturridge, he can play up there on his own or play off the side.
“He is moving to Merseyside. He is engrossing himself into the club and the people, but more importantly into his football.
“I look forward to seeing that development over the coming years.”