Rodgers: I laid down the law to Balotelli

The Italy international joined the Reds for €20m from AC Milan earlier this summer and the Northern Irishman admits he has had to have a conversation with the striker already

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers claims he had to set Mario Balotelli straight upon his arrival at Anfield.

The Italy international often brings with him character and controversy, having created headlines for setting fire to his house with fireworks and throwing darts at youth team players while at Manchester City.

And Rodgers admits he has had to curb Balotelli’s ego already – informing him that Steven Gerrard will be taking penalties ahead of the Italian, and also denying him a chance to announce himself on Merseyside with a press conference.

“If you’d have seen Mario in training, he’s been out for 45 minutes doing extra work on free-kicks and penalties,” Rodgers told reporters.

“And yes, he has asked who takes the penalties. He’s brilliant at it. And he knows it as well.

“But Steven Gerrard is the penalty-taker. Mario has been told that. He understands the situation.”

Rodgers added: “Mario came in and we were asked about the press conference. I replied: ‘What press conference?’ There wasn’t one for Adam Lallana or Lazar Markovic.

“It was a case of: ‘Get up the stairs, hold the shirt, get your photograph taken and get straight out.’

“You can make them feel as if they are more than what they are. Then the ego goes with it.”

Despite his headline-grabbing acquisition, Rodgers insists that Balotelli will not have a negative impact on the squad’s morale in the coming weeks and months.

“Everything he does off the field gets monitored and looked at,” he added.

“He does kind things and, yes, stupid ones.

“He is a guy who I believe can help us. But he’s not the star. The star of the team is the team.”

Balotelli could make his Liverpool debut against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

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