Football

Rodgers confident 
over Mario

VIEW FROM THE STANDS: Mario Balotelli (right) watching his new team Liverpool take on his former side Manchester City beside Adam Lallana. PHOTO: REUTERS

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is confident he can get the best out of Mario Balotelli despite the player's colourful past.

The 24-year-old has returned to the Premier League after finalising his £16 million ($33m) move from AC Milan and was at the Etihad Stadium to see his former club Manchester City beat his new side 3-1 yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Balotelli has had an eventful career so far, none more so than during his three years at City where he got into his fair share of scrapes on and off the field, but Rodgers does not see that as a problem.

"I've worked with those type of players all my life from when I worked in youth coaching," he told Sky Sports.

"I never had the finished article and that's how - at times - I like it.

"Most players I like to sit down and look in the eye and see the honesty and the humility that they have.

"I spent a bit of time with him, about three-and-a-half hours, just talking him through Liverpool - it's a massive club and it's a different club, it's a family club with strong family values and, as I said, behaviour is very important here.

"He's a very bright boy. He was very clever. He understood where he's at this stage of his career and he knows himself that this is probably his last chance.

"I look at the talent. He's a wonderful talent. There's no doubt he's at a stage in his career that this might be the last chance at a big club because he needs to settle down and show maturity.

"He's got huge potential but needs to come to Liverpool and be consistent because, if he can do that, we've got one hell of a player."

Former Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher believes Rodgers is taking a risk with Balotelli.

"Looking at the situation Liverpool were in, one week until the window shuts, they needed a striker and they're getting the Italian No. 1 striker for 
£16 million," he told Sky Sports.

WORRY

"I think it is good business from Liverpool but there has got to be a worry signing Balotelli.

"There's a reason he costs £16 million and has moved so often within his career already. That is a problem for Liverpool.

"If we could see the Balotelli we saw at Euro 2012, I'd say 'It's a great signing' but I don't want to see the Balotelli I saw at City in a Liverpool shirt - petulant, stupid, sendings-off, walking about.

"I played against him two or three times (and he was) doing nothing in the game and you knew if you got tight to him and put him under pressure, he'd fall out again." - PA Sport.