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Pellegrini backs Mario Balotelli deal

MANCHESTER -- Manuel Pellegrini believes Liverpool will "always" miss Luis Suarez but thinks Mario Balotelli could be the "perfect" signing for them.

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The Chilean's Manchester City side will take on Brendan Rodgers' Reds at the Etihad Stadium on Monday in a meeting of the teams who finished first and second in last season's Premier League.

Liverpool have lost Suarez, who was voted Footballer of the Year after scoring 31 goals for them, to Barcelona in a 75 million-pound move.

But they are trying to sign former City striker Balotelli from AC Milan for 16 million pounds, although the Italian will not be eligible to make his debut against his old club.

Liverpool have already spent over 100 million pounds this summer but Pellegrini said in a news conference: "Maybe they will always miss Luis Suarez because he is a very important player but they have brought a lot of important new players and continue being a very strong squad also."

Balotelli scored 30 goals in 80 games during his City career and helped them win the Premier League title in 2012.

He was both bought and sold by Pellegrini's predecessor, Roberto Mancini, but the Chilean believes a move to Anfield could be just what the 24-year-old needs.

He added: "I know the character of Mario Balotelli. Everyone that is involved in football knows about him. If Liverpool decide he the player he is the player that is important for them, perfect for them and perfect for Mario."

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While Rodgers had ruled out moving for Balotelli three weeks ago, Pellegrini said he was not taken aback by Liverpool's change of heart.

He said: "I am not surprised because I think Mario Balotelli is a very good player. He went here from Manchester City to Italy but I think he can play everywhere he wants."

One of Balotelli's former striker partners, Edin Dzeko, has signed a new four-year deal to stay at City and Pellegrini was delighted to keep the Bosnian.

He added: "I am very pleased because I think that Edin is a very important player for our squad. He is playing very well and so he deserved to renew his contract with the club."

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