Balotelli set for Anfield exit

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Liverpool’s manager had already gone cold on the Italian, concluding some time ago that he has no future at Anfield.

The striker’s illness followed his decision to rule himself out of the Premier League game at Arsenal last Saturday after taking what Rodgers described as a ‘slight knock to his knee in training’.

Rodgers will admit he ignored the warnings about Balotelli. He knew Jose Mourinho considered him ‘unmanageable’ and he listened to the anecdotal evidence he received from the members of his staff who had encountered the striker during their time at Manchester City.

But Rodgers hoped Balotelli might mature with age, and he made the mistake of thinking he could succeed where others had failed.

Liverpool’s manager was desperate too, of course. Attempts to recruit other strikers, in particular Alexis Sanchez, had proved unsuccessful last summer and he was concerned that Rickie Lambert would not provide adequate cover if Daniel Sturridge suffered further injury problems. He was right to worry about Sturridge’s fragility but wrong, he would probably now concede, to spend £16million on Balotelli.

For three hours in his office at Melwood he attempted to lessen the risk before asking his employers to part with the money. He spoke both to Balotelli and his agent, explaining what was expected of every Liverpool player and sharing his philosophy on the power of the collective.

Over the years his C.O.R.E principles speech — Commitment, Ownership, Responsibilities, Excellence — had worked with players. He would use a flip-chart to deliver his lecture on the standards he demands and, for the most part, players had responded accordingly.

But not Balotelli. Not the player who already had a reputation for having no respect for authority, for his considerable talent or for the clubs he represents.

Rodgers is saddened that Balotelli appears to have no respect for Liverpool, and no apparent willingness to follow the simplest instructions.

In Sturridge’s absence Rodgers told Balotelli he needed a striker who would ‘press’ at the point of Liverpool’s attack; who would play high up the field and in so doing set the pattern of Liverpool’s play. Balotelli, much to his manager’s frustration, just wouldn’t do it, in the misguided belief that he knew better.

On the training field there have been similar issues — a situation that has offended team-mates who do buy into Rodgers’ methods and want to build on the success they enjoyed last season.

So there will be no second chance for Balotelli at Liverpool next season. Rodgers is continuing to use him when absolutely necessary but he is at the very top of a list of players he will put up for sale this summer.

He has to get him out and put what money he can recover for him to better use, if only to improve morale in a dressing room that probably lost patience with the guy before he did. – Daily Mail

Original source: Balotelli set for Anfield exit

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