Rodgers defends woeful Balotelli: He's not here to replace Suarez

The Italian striker again drew a blank for Liverpool in their 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers on Sunday but was later defended by his manager, despite missing an open goal

Brendan Rodgers defended Mario Balotelli after the Liverpool striker drew another blank against QPR on Sunday, insisting that the striker has not been signed to replace Luis Suarez.

The Uruguay international joined Barcelona in a €88 million summer deal and Balotelli was subsequently signed from AC Milan for €20m as Rodgers attempted to fill the attacking void left by last season’s Premier League top scorer.

However, Balotelli missed an open goal from six yards as the Reds beat Harry Redknapp’s side 3-2, having spurned a number of glorious chances beforehand.

Yet Rodgers insists that he is a “different” player to Suarez, and insists that Balotelli – who has been dropped from the Italy squad in favour of in-form Southampton striker Graziano Pelle – will eventually get among the goals at Anfield.

“It’ll drop for the boy,” he told reporters. “The most important thing to me is his work rate. He’s working really hard. It’ll drop for him.

“He’s seen as a direct replacement to Luis (Suarez), I’ve said before, Luis is irreplaceable, a real world class talent. That’s not what’s being asked of Mario. He’s a great boy, I’ve enjoyed working with him. He wants to be better. He’s a completely different player to Luis.”

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