Rodgers: Balotelli can become world-class like Suarez

The Italy international joined the club in a €20 million deal from AC Milan in the summer and the Reds manager believes the star can fulfil his potential at Anfield

Brendan Rodgers admits that Mario Balotelli is not yet world-class but has backed him to emulate Luis Suarez and fulfil his potential at Anfield.

Suarez was sold to Barcelona in an eye-watering €88 million deal in the summer, with Balotelli subsequently signed for €20m as the Reds looked to re-model their frontline.

And Rodgers believes that the Italy international should look to follow in Suarez’s footsteps at Anfield and prove his worth as an elite forward.

“Suarez elevated himself, that was clear,” Rodgers told reporters. “He wasn’t world-class when he came in but when he left to go to Barcelona he had put himself in that bracket.

“He did that because of his consistency in scoring goals and keeping his performance level high. World-class is about being at the highest level consistently, being at that level in your game consistently. That’s what takes you there.

“I think Mario is potentially world-class. You can’t compare Suarez and him, but Mario is coming in as an international striker and he’s a talent, no doubt.”

Balotelli has yet to score in the Premier League but Rodgers believes he must show greater consistency if he is to grasp his responsibilities as the club’s main man.

“We shall see,” Rodgers replied when asked if Balotelli was the player to replace Suarez.

“There is no comparison between the two as players. Luis was brilliant for me in his time here and developed to become a player who consistently delivered in terms of scoring and creating.

“Mario is different. He’s got a lot of experience for 24, he has come here as an established international, so for him it is about being quality consistently. That is what can elevate him to that level.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers admits the club are struggling following their massive summer spending spree and has called on his players to get back to basics ahead of their derby clash with Everton at Anfield on Saturday.

“I think at this moment in time we are re-focusing and reintroducing principles into our game that has brought the win ratio we’ve had in the last 18 months,” he continued.

“Apart from the Tottenham game [won 3-0 at White Hart Lane] we have moved away a bit from that.

“Our game is based on fast pressing, a real high intensity and also the speed of our football. We put a lot of hard work in during the first six months that we were here and a lot of those processes became natural — the consequence of that is winning.

“When you introduce a raft of new players and lose the core of players, that’s obviously a factor and then it becomes a little bit broken. That’s how our game has looked for me for a big part of the season. Where I am fortunate is that I have a group of players here that identify with that.

“We are all in this together and we need to get back to re-focus on what has allowed us to win games consistently over the last 18 months to two years. That has been about the way we play and imposing our style and strength on our opponents.”

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