Mario Balotelli transfer latest: Brendan Rodgers praises 'great talent' Balotelli as Liverpool become favourites to sign striker

Rodgers is seeking a replacement for Luis Suarez after the £8.5m move for Loic Remy was called off

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has heaped praise on AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, triggering talk that the Reds will follow up their interest in the Italian with a formal offer as they look to add a new forward to their squad.

Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy had been on the verge of joining the Merseyside club, only to fail a medical and see the deal called off at the last minute. With his £8.5m transfer now dead in the water, Rodgers is seeking an alternative to help fill the void left by Luis Suarez’s departure.

A complete guide to the 2014 transfer window

One of those believed to be targeted by the Northern Irishman is Balotelli, who had reportedly been on Arsenal’s radar earlier in the summer. Rodgers described the controversial character that is ‘Super Mario’ as “a big talent”, and believes with the right guidance he can go on to become one of the best players in the world.

“Balotelli is a big talent,” Rodgers said on Liverpool’s tour of the United States.

“I saw that in this time at Inter Milan as a young player and obviously going to Manchester City when we had a real close eye on him there.

“He's got all the qualities. He's 6ft 3ins, he's quick, his touch is terrific and he can score goals.

“He went back to Italy to play and he's still so young. If his focus is right, his concentration is right and he leads the lifestyle of a top player then he can play for any team in the world.'


Rodgers was speaking about Balotelli ahead of Liverpool’s pre-season friendly against AC Milan later tonight, with the two teams set to collide as part of the International Champions Cup that also features the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid.

A win would send them through to the final of the competition – due to be held in Miami on Monday night – and having already beaten Olympiakos and City in Group B, Rodgers has been quick to admit his delight with defender Sebastian Coates’ form ahead of the new season.

Read more: Liverpool close in on Spanish double-swoop
Rodgers planning more signings
Henderson challenged to score upwards of 10 goals

Coates suffered a serious knee injury while on international duty for Uruguay in August 2013, and after battling back to full fitness and a loan spell with his former club Nacional, he could boost Liverpool’s defensive options should he stay at Anfield this summer.

“Seb is a player who played in the team when I first came into the club and then was out of the team,” Rodgers added.

“He was very unfortunate to have had a bad injury which put him out for a while, but he went away on loan, got himself fit and he's come back and done really well in pre-season.

“He's a real good guy as well, a humble man, never cries about not playing and accepts as a professional he won't play in every game.

Mario Balotelli is a reported target for Liverpool Mario Balotelli is a reported target for Liverpool “He's a big boy but he can play football. He has a lovely touch, lovely technique but he can pass the ball and he can be aggressive.

“The question is whether he gets enough games that will satisfy his own personal needs because he's a talent.

“He's done well in the games and we'll see what the rest of the summer holds for him.”

Read more: Gerrard leads Liverpool night out in New York
Rodgers instructs defenders to 'keep their legs closed' - but why?
Liverpool's Ilori could hold the key to United's Hummels move

Rodgers is expected to have two more defensive options available to him once the season gets underway, with a £20m move for Seville left-back Alberto Moreno set to be completed in the next few days. That transfer should be followed by a season-long loan of Atletico Madrid right-back Javier Manquillo, who could join on a permanent deal next year for around £6m should he impress Rodgers.

However, Rodgers was reluctant to expand on his plans for the remaining month of the transfer window, but did concede that there are areas he still wants to strengthen despite already making six signings since the end of last season.

“We won't have too much business to be done but we still have a few areas we want to strengthen,” Rodgers explained.

“It's just purely on the back of us having a really thin squad last season, we were very short and it was incredible what we achieved last year.

Javier Manquillo (L) and Alberto Moreno (R) are closing in on a move to Liverpool Javier Manquillo (L) and Alberto Moreno (R) are closing in on a move to Liverpool “We need to make sure we have the freshness so there's still one or two areas to look at.

“There is no point mentioning numbers or positions, we want to strengthen a couple of positions and if we can do that I'll be really happy.

“This trip has been a great chance to come away, improve fitness levels and reintroduce some of the tactics into the team.

“The new players have settled in quickly. That's a great credit not just to just them but to the team. There's no egos here and the spirit in the team is very strong.”

Managing Balotelli’s ego – should he join the Premier League runners-up – would certainly be one of Rodgers’ most difficult challenges to date, but it remains to be seen if the 23-year-old will be making a return to the English top flight this year.

Suggested Topics

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London