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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Aug 2, 2014

Rodgers talks up Mario Balotelli talent

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop has had enough of Mario Balotelli, and says it's no longer worth taking a chance on the young striker.

Brendan Rodgers has heaped praise on former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli as the Liverpool manager continues to search for Luis Suarez's replacement.

Rodgers is in the market for a new striker after a proposed move for Queens Park Rangers forward Loic Remy fell through due to a failed medical. Ahead of his side's friendly with AC Milan in North Carolina, Rodgers said Balotelli, who was linked with a summer move to Arsenal, has all the qualities required to be a leading striker.

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"Balotelli is a big talent," Rodgers said. "I saw that in this time at Inter Milan as a young player and obviously going to Manchester City when we had a real close eye on him there.

"He's got all the qualities. He's 6ft 3ins, he's quick, his touch is terrific and he can score goals. He went back to Italy to play and he's still so young.

"If his focus is right, his concentration is right and he leads the lifestyle of a top player then he can play for any team in the world."

Mario Balotelli comes up against Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool in the Guinness Champions Cup.

With last season's Premier League top scorer Suarez having departed for Barcelona in a 75-million-pound deal earlier this summer, Rodgers' options up front are considerably lighter.

He has made six signings so far this summer, bringing in strikers Rickie Lambert and Divock Origi, midfielders Adam Lallana and Emre Can, winger Lazar Markovic and centre-back Dejan Lovren. Lallana will miss the first few weeks of the season with a knee injury, though, while Origi has been loaned back to Lille for the coming campaign as part of the deal that brought him to Anfield.

While the depth of his squad has improved significantly, Rodgers is still short of a marquee signing to take over the departed Uruguayan's mantle. The club are expected to tie down deals for Spanish full-backs Alberto Moreno and Javi Manquillo, but Rodgers is still searching for another striker as he prepares for the club's return to the Champions League.

"We won't have too much business to be done but we still have a few areas we want to strengthen," Rodgers said. "It's just purely on the back of us having a really thin squad last season, we were very short and it was incredible what we achieved last year.

"We need to make sure we have the freshness so there's still one or two areas to look at. There is no point mentioning numbers or positions, we want to strengthen a couple of positions and if we can do that I'll be really happy.

"This trip has been a great chance to come away, improve fitness levels and reintroduce some of the tactics into the team. The new players have settled in quickly. That's a great credit not just to just them but to the team. There's no egos here and the spirit in the team is very strong."

Rodgers' summer spending could top the 100-million-pound mark but the manager insists he is spending wisely, having taken a dig a Tottenham's transfer policy following the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid last summer.

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