Balotelli: The goals will come at Liverpool

November 21st, 2014

The Italian has failed to score in nine Premier League appearances this season and been criticised for a perceived lack of effort, but remains upbeat about his form

Mario Balotelli remains unconcerned by his slow start to life at Liverpool and insists he will re-find his goalscoring touch.

The Italian moved to Anfield from Milan in August for a fee thought to be in the region of €21 million, as manager Brendan Rodgers attempted to replace the influential Luis Suarez.

But Balotelli has struggled to recreate the form that saw him net 26 times in 43 Serie A appearances at Milan, with the 24-year-old yet to get off the mark in nine Premier League outings this campaign, though he has found the net twice in cup competitions.

Many have criticised Balotelli’s perceived lack of effort since arriving on Merseyside but when asked how he would rate his performances out of 10, he replied with “seven, because I run more than before”.

“The goals, they will come,” he told Fox Sports Australia. ”It is something that’s just not coming at the moment. But it’s not something that has just gone.

“Run, like I’m running now, I’ve never run like this.

“I don’t need people to believe in me so long as I believe in myself. The important people for me are my family and my few close friends, as long as they believe in me.

“Some think because I didn’t score and didn’t start well this season that I can’t be one of the top players, a really good player for this team. That’s their business.

“I don’t care what stories people say about me because I know they are lying.”

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'I don't have time to change Balotelli' – Conte

November 19th, 2014

The former Juventus coach believes “great coaches” have tried and failed to get the best out of the 24-year-old, who has scored only twice in 14 games this season

Italy coach Antonio Conte insists he doesn’t have the time to change Mario Balotelli and believes “great coaches” have failed to get the best out of Liverpool striker.

After missing out on Conte’s first two squads, Balotelli was called-up for Italy’s fixtures against Albania and Croatia, but the 24-year-old withdrew due to groin and hamstring injuries.

Balotelli has faced criticism after struggling to make an impact since his €20 million move to Anfield from AC Milan, scoring just twice in 14 appearances this term.

“I’m not so arrogant as to claim that I’m different from the great coaches, but the past tells us that they failed to change Balotelli,” he told Rai Sport.

“It’ll be up to the player, but I don’t have much time and I need certain things.”

Balotelli never considered for Napoli, says Benitez

November 17th, 2014

The former Reds boss says has strongly refuted speculation of a deal for the Italy international but says the Anfield faithful will back the striker if he works hard on the pitch

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez has completely dismissed suggestions that he will try to sign Mario Balotelli from Liverpool in the January transfer window.

The Italy international has endured a slow start to his career at Anfield and is still yet to score in the Premier League for Brendan Rodgers’s side.

Balotelli was signed from AC Milan in a €20 million deal in August but Benitez says he will not try to bring him back to Italy when the transfer window reopens.

“Liverpool fans are loyal – if he works in the field then they will support him,” the Spaniard told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Mario coming to us in January though? There is absolutely nothing to this, it is just a hypothesis that I have never considered.”

Benitez, who spent six years as Liverpool manager, also spoke about his future with his contract at Napoli set to expire in the summer.

“My family are away from me, my wife and two daughters live in Liverpool. It’s the first time I haven’t had them with me, it’s not easy,” he added. “[owner Aurelio] De Laurentiis knows how important my family values are to me.

“Experience tells me we have to work on the current project. I often speak with [sporting director] Riccardo Bigon, and I always say to De Laurentiis that he must ensure the future of the club regardless of myself.

“The problem isn’t the renewal, but sharing the same vision, it’s not a question of money or signings. We need to work to see if we can win together going forward or not, and then we’ll see.”

Conte: Italy must not fear anyone

November 16th, 2014

The former Juventus boss has called on his players to play with pride as they look to seize top spot against Croatia

Antonio Conte insists his Italy side must not fear anybody as they prepare for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Croatia.

The Azzurri head into Saturday’s match level on points with Niko Kovac’s men, though they remind behind them on goal difference after three matches.

Despite both sides having secured three wins from three so far, Conte is adamant his team must not approach the clash with anything other than a full conviction to win.

“We must not be afraid of anyone, but we must respect every opponent. We are a growing team in terms of what we are doing,” he told reporters.
“The team are prepared, I hope that we’ll play a great match regardless of who takes to the field. I hope for a good win tomorrow. We will have to take to the field with desire and pride.”

Mario Balotelli’s return to the Italy set-up was short-lived as he was sent back to Liverpool after suffering an injury during training this week.

“Balotelli did not train yesterday and today and it was useless to keep him, so I chose to send him home,” Conte explained. “These days I have evaluated him in the same way as anyone else.”

Heavy rainfall has blighted Milan over the last 24 hours but Conte hopes to see an improvement on Sunday in order to allow two technical sides the chance to express themselves.
“We hope that the weather will improve, we are a team that plays football as well as Croatia and we hope that the pitch is in good condition,” added the former Juventus boss.

“We play at San Siro against Croatia and we are at the top, level on points. We are all well aware of the race to qualify.”

Mancini rules out Inter bid for misfiring Balotelli

November 16th, 2014

The coach insists he will not sign the Liverpool striker in January despite having coached him twice before with the Nerazzurri and Manchester City

Roberto Mancini has ruled out a January reunion with former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli at Inter after returning to San Siro as head coach.

The former Galatasaray boss, who confessed to his surprise at being handed a second chance at Inter six years after leaving, insisted he was not planning on bringing the controversial Italy forward back.

The pair worked together during Mancini’s previous spell at the helm and the striker followed him to Manchester City, where they won the Premier League together.

Balotelli has since moved on to Liverpool, via AC Milan, but has only scored two goals for the club and has yet to break his duck in the Premier League.

But Mancini believes Balotelli’s future is at Anfield, with no San Siro return on the horizon.

“I think that Mario is going to stay at Liverpool,” said Mancini. “It is a great opportunity for him.

“He has to do his best there. He has been lucky to get back into England playing for a big club.

“He has to take this chance.”

Mancini’s return to Serie A was confirmed on Saturday, the 49-year-old replacing Walter Mazzarri after Inter’s indifferent start to the 2014-15 campaign, which has left them ninth in the table.

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