Playing with Gerrard was 'an honour', says Balotelli

May 16th, 2015

The midfielder will make the switch to Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy this summer, and has received widespread support from fans and team-mates alike

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has described playing alongside Steven Gerrard as an “honour” as the legendary midfielder prepares for his final Anfield outing on Saturday.

Gerrard’s last home appearance for his boyhood team will come against Crystal Palace on Saturday, with a carnival atmosphere expected as those inside the ground pay tribute to the outgoing club captain.

And Italy international Balotelli, who joined Liverpool last summer, took to Instagram ahead of the game to hail the former England skipper as “a great man”.

In his handwritten note, Balotelli wrote: “Stevie…I had the honor (sic) to play with you, not for long but [it was] still an amazing and unforgettable experience for me.

“You are a great man and a cool CAPITAIN (sic)! [It] Is a pleasure [to] leave free-kicks and penalties to you.

“I wish you all the best for your next venture and your family. You deserve the best. GOOD LUCK MY FRIEND.”

Suarez: Messi was born great, Ronaldo made himself great

May 12th, 2015

The Uruguay international says his team-mate was one of the game’s best players from the minute he made his first team debut

Barcelona attacker Luis Suarez feels Lionel Messi was born a great player, whereas Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has had to work to reach his current level.

Messi and Ronaldo are widely regarded as the two best players of their generation, with the pair winning the Ballon d’Or seven times between them in as many years.

Suarez feels his Barcelona team-mate is the better of the two, though, because of his consistency from the first minute he made his debut.

“Messi is a natural. It’s in his character,” the Uruguay international told Le Buteur.

“Messi is the best player in the world. He was born with his qualities.

“Ronaldo has progressed over the course of the years and has worked very hard to reach his current level.

“He was not at the same level when he first made his debut, though. That’s why I think Leo is the better of the two.”

Suarez also had his say on Mario Balotelli’s difficulties at Liverpool and defended the Italy international against ongoing criticism.

“I think Balotelli has already played at some huge clubs and has proven to be a formidable player.

“It is not easy to do what he did at Manchester City.

“After a spell in Italy, he moved to England, then returned to Italy and eventually move back to England again. That’s been very difficult for him, but he remains a great player.”

Balotelli could return to Inter – Zanetti

May 8th, 2015

The forward came through the youth ranks at San Siro before leaving the club in 2010 following a series of controversial incidents

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti has opened the door to Mario Balotelli returning to the club after admitting “anything can happen” in football.

The forward began his career at San Siro and won Serie A three times, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana during his time with the Nerazzurri.

However, he left for Manchester City in 2010 after a sour end to his time at the club, which saw him throw his shirt to the ground after the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona in 2010.

But, Zanetti says Balotelli could yet pen another chapter with Inter if coach Roberto Mancini – who coaxed flashes of brilliance out of the forward in his first spell and at City – wants to sign him.

“In football anything can happen,” he told the Corriere Dello Sport. “If Mancini asks us then certainly it could happen. I’m convinced that if he had stayed at Inter he would have matured further.”

Zanetti, whose iconic No.4 shirt was officially retired by the club earlier this week, also confirmed Palermo star Paulo Dybala was top of their list of transfer targets this summer.

“I got to know him at a charity match for my foundation, he is a player that belongs at the top level and I can assure you that an attempt will be made ​​to buy him.

“With [Mauro] Icardi, they would form one of the best partnerships in Serie A. We are trying to make something happen, but we prefer to work in silence.”

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Balotelli's doing his best, says Rodgers

April 29th, 2015

The striker, who has just one goal in 16 Premier League outings, again failed to impress as Hull City all but ended Liverpool’s Champions League hopes on Tuesday

Brendan Rodgers has again backed underperforming Mario Balotelli to come good at Liverpool despite acknowledging his ongoing struggles.

The Italian, who has just one league goal to his name, was handed his 10th start of the season as Hull City ran out 1-0 winners on Tuesday to all but end Liverpool’s fading hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.

Balotelli touched the ball just 22 times – and only once in the 20 second-half minutes before he was replaced by Rickie Lambert – and Rodgers has underlined the need for improved displays from the entire squad.

“Mario’s doing his best,” Rodgers told reporters. “He’s obviously come off [in the second half] with a foot injury. I think it’s clear over the course of the season, not just this game, that [attack] is an area we’ve struggled in.

“He’s still got a few years left on his contract. Every single player, every single day you come in at Liverpool, you’re working for your future.”

'Balotelli needs bread and water, not a Ferrari' – Sampdoria president Ferrero

April 14th, 2015

The 24-year-old has endured a nightmare season at Anfield and his countryman believes he should follow the example of Antonio Cassano by moving to Stadio Luigi Ferraris

Liverpool misfit Mario Balotelli should choose a more modest lifestyle at Sampdoria if he wants to revive his career, according to the club’s outspoken president Massimo Ferrero.

Balotelli has endured a nightmare season at Anfield, scoring just four goals in 25 appearances since arriving in a £16 million deal from Milan last summer and frequently attracting criticism for his attitude.

Ferrero believes the 24-year-old has lost his desire for football and needs to come to Stadio Luigi Ferraris in order to re-discover his best form – in much the same manner as fellow Italian bad boy Antonio Cassano did upon leaving Real Madrid in acrimonious circumstances in the summer of 2007.

“I’d sign him,” Ferrero insisted when asked about Balotelli on Gazzetta TV.

“If he came to Sampdoria, he would come back to his usual standards. Here nobody would bother him if he missed a goal, he would be quiet and happy.

“In my opinion he’s not hungry anymore, he earns 4 million euros a year. We should put him on bread and water, give him a Bianchina [a very small, working class car from the 1960s] rather than a Ferrari… then I’m sure he would score again.”

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