Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has cast doubt over Mario Balotelli’s long term future at the club.
Brendan Rodgers has revealed he has spoken to Mario Balotelli about his shirt swap with Real Madrid defender Pepe at half-time and admitted that the Italian striker would face punishment for his actions. Rodgers refused to comment on reports that the 24-year-old will face a sanction from the club but raised doubts regarding Balotelli’s long-term success at Liverpool.
“Any action I would take with Mario [Balotelli] would be kept within ourselves. We’ve had a conversation about the culture in this country and in particular Liverpool and that is it. Matter closed,” said Rodgers at Thursday’s press conference.
“There’s been no reaction to Mario Balotelli’s shirt swap from the rest of the squad but speculation is inevitable.”
“The Mario Balotelli show is no different to me. He is treated like any other player. We have an image of a team here, of how we play and work and how we represent the club.”
“I like players that are different. I like individual personality in people with hair and coloured boots but as long as they don’t see themselves as an individual that is what is important.”
“They have to fit into the parameters of the team and if those players over the longer term don’t it can be difficult for them to work here. But in terms of that he is genuinely working hard and doing his best at Liverpool.”
“Longer term we will see how that works out for him but he is trying hard on the training field to improve his opportunities to score goals. As long as he is doing his best that is all I can ask as a coach: whether that best is going to be good enough that remains to be seen – but that is the same for every player not just Mario.”
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher believes Balotelli will be sold before the start of next season. “I can’t change the way I feel about Balotelli, and that’s nothing to do with what he’s done in a Liverpool shirt,” Carragher has told Sky in reaction.
“It’s what he’s done at Man City, what he’s done at Milan. Rafa Benitez was here a few years, bought Robbie Keane and sold him in January. It might not be that quick but I’d be surprised to see him here next season if I’m being honest. These players, who are continually moved on: it’s for a reason.”
“We spoke about that [lack of intensity] before the game. I don’t think what he did in the first half was a surprise to anyone or the manager.”
The Italian striker has failed to score a Premier League goal since his £16million move two months ago, and was subject to criticism on Wednesday night after a slack performance against Real Madrid.