Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers has spoken to Daniel Sturridge about £16m arrival - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers has spoken to Daniel Sturridge about £16m arrival

There are concerns the Italian could be a destabalising influence

Brendan Rodgers has spoken to Daniel Sturridge to give him assurances before the imminent arrival of Mario Balotelli at Liverpool.

The Italian striker is on the verge of signing for the Reds after a fee of £16m was agreed with AC Milan last week.

Read more: Liverpool better despite loss of Suarez - Rodgers
Balotelli an 'enormous gamble' - Souness
Balotelli to Liverpool - latest news

Balotelli has a history of on and off field disciplinary problems and there are concerns the 24-year-old could destabilise the Merseyside club.

Former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness said: "It's an enormous gamble by Rodgers, a gamble I don't think he needs to take because he has a very strong group of players."

It is hoped Rodgers will be able to get the best out of the Italian due to his proven track record of dealing with difficult players.

Rodgers is confident of getting the best out of Balotelli Rodgers is confident of getting the best out of Balotelli  

The departed Luis Suarez flourished under Rodgers, whilst Raheem Sterling has also progressed incredibly well.

Rodgers feels confident he can revive Balotelli's career at Anfield because in Daniel Sturridge he took another “difficult” footballer and made him flourish. Off the field, Suarez and Sturridge were not close but on it they formed one of the most lethal attacking partnerships Liverpool has known.

 

With Suarez having left for Barcelona, Sturridge would have felt he was now indisputably Liverpool's main striker. Balotelli's arrival on Merseyside may have altered that, although Rodgers is confident Sturridge’s ego is less fragile than it once was.

"A top player with a top mentality will respond to the competition,” said Rodgers. “I have spoken to Daniel and said how important he is for the team. The confidence I have in him has been shown in his performances. He has 36 goals in 50 games for Liverpool. You can’t do that if you are not happy with your life and your football."

There have also been questions raised about where Balotelli fits into Liverpool's system, but Rodgers is confident he can make it work.

“We can also play a diamond. We played that eight times last year and won seven, and we flipped to that against Southampton. We can change systems and I need that flexibility. Also, if you look at Daniel’s injury record, then he has missed a number of weeks through being injured. I need to ensure I have got the replacements if they are not on the pitch at the same time.”

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