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Mancini: Balotelli can be better than Torres

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has added spice to Monday's Premier League showdown with Liverpool by claiming new signing Mario Balotelli has the potential to be better than Fernando Torres.

• Preview: Man City v Liverpool
• Poulsen: Reds can challenge

The two strikers could go head-to-head at the City of Manchester Stadium as two title outsiders look to gain an early advantage in the race for a top four place. Mancini completed a swoop for Balotelli from his former club Inter Milan earlier this month after City's interest in Torres had been rebuked.

Balotelli, who signed a five-year deal, made an immediate impact for City when he scored the winner on his debut in the club's 1-0 Europa League play-off first leg win over Romanian side Timisoara last week. Mancini believes Balotelli can make an even bigger mark on the English game than Anfield hero Torres because of his flexibility.

"I think that Balotelli could be as good as Torres and even better than him,'' Mancini said. "That's because Torres can only play as a striker. Balotelli can play as a striker and as a winger. He has a different attitude from Torres. But what is sure is that we are talking about two fantastic players.''

Balotelli is expected to be fit for the match at Eastlands after injuring himself in the match against Timisoara and Mancini warned: "The defenders do not know much about him but they will see he can change everything about a game. I saw him four years ago when I was at Inter Milan. He was 16 or 17.

"It was the last five games of the Serie A championship. We had (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic injured and we played Mario inside and he played like someone who was 30 years old. That's because he has good technique, he has everything. Yes, he is a good signing for us.''

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