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Carragher: Would Balotelli even start?

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has questioned whether Mario Balotelli would be a regular starter for manager Brendan Rodgers if he completes his move from AC Milan to Anfield.

Reports suggest Liverpool are close to finalising a deal to sign the former Manchester City striker, yet Carragher wonders whether the 24-year-old would be an automatic pick for Rodgers ahead of lead striker Daniel Sturridge.

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"Would he be the final piece of the jigsaw?" asked Carragher of Balotelli, in an interview with Sky Sports. "Would he make the starting XI if everyone was fit and firing? Who knows.

"At the moment Daniel Sturridge has got 36 goals in 50 games for Liverpool and at this moment he is the main man up front.

"Would Brendan then accommodate another striker, whoever that may be, like he did with Luis Suarez? He has lots of options now and I don't think he will play the same team too often so they do need those options."

Balotelli has something of a reputation for being a difficult player to manage, with Jose Mourinho famously suggesting he was the only player he did not know how to handle during his time as Inter Milan boss.

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It takes a strong manager to control Mario Balotelli, but Jaime Carragher says Brendan Rodgers could do a decent job.

Yet Carragher suggests Liverpool boss Rodgers has proved he can get the best out of troublesome forwards, after drawing some sparkling performances out of Suarez last season despite his numerous problems on and off the pitch.

"Brendan has had plenty of practice with Luis I suppose," suggested Carragher. "The main thing for any player is what they do on the pitch. Both of those players had issues off the pitch, but I think it's fair to say Suarez did a lot more on the pitch.

"You will always get a little bit more freedom if you're producing on the pitch, that's the main thing for any player.

"Balotelli is a player who has been here before and did a lot of stuff that was good for us in the media. He probably didn't quite show his potential at Manchester City and that, coupled with his off-the-field problems, probably saw him depart.

"He's the Italian number one striker and you want to see good players here. Liverpool do need a striker."

While Carragher seemed unconvinced by Balotelli's imminent arrival at Liverpool, he was quick to suggest his former club need to add an additional forward player to their ranks after the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona this summer.

"They definitely need a striker, there's no doubt about that," he added. "At the moment they only have Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert -- it looks like Fabio Borini is going to move on -- and you need strikers."


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